The Ethos of Liberalism
This chapter looks at the prevailing intellectual perspectives on Edmund Burke in postrevolutionary America. Burke's impact was more directly felt during the turbulent era of the American Revolution, but during the more peaceful antebellum period the primary driving force of human agency in America shifted from a relative handful of important men to a larger and more diverse collection of citizens intent on reaping the benefits of their new social, political, and economic order. Unfortunately, in this new, progressive, democratic era, no national self-image could have been less hospitable to the exaggerated Anglo-traditionalism of Edmund Burke. Yet the chapter notes that Burke's ideals have gained purchase even in this new era of national development, as illustrated by the later treatment of Burke in such eminent circles as the transcendentalists and the Jacksonians, and even by the historian George Bancroft himself.
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