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Edmund Burke in AmericaThe Contested Career of the Father of Modern Conservatism$
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Drew Maciag

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448959

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448959.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

In Search of Icons

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Edmund Burke in America
Author(s):

Drew Maciag

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801448959.003.0001

This introductory chapter discusses how American commentary on Edmund Burke (1729–1797) has always revealed more about the intermittent traumas of American life than it has about the historical Edmund Burke. It shows how, while liberals have often enjoyed a considerable “family tree” of historical icons to support their ideals, conservatives find themselves lacking in great old names to help them defend traditional orthodoxies—having found few effective matches for Locke, Jefferson, Mill, Dewey, and other tradition-shattering icons. Consequently, they have been forced to stretch Edmund Burke beyond measure: since the Second World War, Burke has been employed to counter virtually all left-of-center thought. Yet, as the chapter shows, the current conservative appropriation of Burke's legacy in America is only the latest chapter in a long, symbolic enterprise.

Keywords:   Edmund Burke, Burke's legacy, liberals, conservatives, national culture, political ideologies

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