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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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Old Seeds, New Soil

Old Seeds, New Soil

The Land of Paine

(p.25) Chapter 2 Old Seeds, New Soil
Edmund Burke in America

Drew Maciag

Cornell University Press

This chapter describes the intellectual and cultural climate of the early American society, which helped to foster Enlightenment ideals and provide the context for how the ideas of Burke and Thomas Paine (1737–1809) were either accepted or derided throughout American history. Early America was eager for ideas that could help shape a national culture that surpassed Europe and represented reason, liberty, balance, and individualism. Burke, though initially considered a friend of liberty, was locked out of this mainstream canon because his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) represented the antithesis of such values. And though Paine died ostracized, he is now widely honored for his work in justifying the philosophy of democratic revolution. Hence, the chapter considers the criteria for acceptance into the intellectual canon of the period, and how both men have either qualified or fallen short of attaining it.

Keywords:   Thomas Paine, Enlightenment, liberty, democratic revolution, early American society

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