Edmund Burke

Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1774

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
12 January 1729 in Dublin, Ireland
  DIED:
9 July 1797 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England

AUTHOR OF
  • A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757
  • Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia.

What ultimately convinced Americans that they must revolt in 1776 was not that they were naturally and inevitably republican, for if that were truly the case evolution, not revolution, would have been the eventual solution. Rather it was the pervasive fear that they were not predestined to be a virtuous and egalitarian people that in the last analysis drove them into revolution in 1776. It was this fear and not their confidence in the peculiarity of their character that made them so readily and so remarkably responsive to Thomas Paine’s warning that the time for independence was at hand and that delay would be disastrous. By 1776 it had become increasingly evident that if they were to remain the kind of people they wanted to be they must become free of Britain.

Gordon S. Wood
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)