Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729 July 9, 1797) was an Irish statesman born in Dublin, as well as an author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who, after moving to London, served as a member of parliament (MP) for many years in the House of Commons with the Whig Party.
Burke criticized British treatment of the American colonies, including through its taxation policies. He also supported the American Revolution, believing both that it couldn’t affect British or European stability and would be an innovative experiment in political development because the Americas were so far away from Europe and thus could have little impact on England.
Burke is remembered for his support for Catholic emancipation, the impeachment of Warren Hastings from the East India Company, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke claimed that the revolution was destroying the fabric of good society, and condemned the persecution of the Catholic Church that resulted from it. This led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig Party, which he dubbed the “Old Whigs”, as opposed to the pro–French Revolution “New Whigs”, led by Charles James Fox.
In the nineteenth century Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals. Subsequently, in the 20th century, he became widely regarded as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism.
Words of Wisdom
Men who undertake considerable things, even in a regular way, ought to give us ground to presume ability.