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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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Modern Times

Modern Times

Conjunctions and Consensus

(p.165) Chapter 9 Modern Times
Edmund Burke in America

Drew Maciag

Cornell University Press

This chapter documents the Burkean revival in postwar America. For most of the nineteenth century Burke had remained an anachronism and spurred merely academic interest in his writings, but three factors converged to make Burke timely again in the mid-twentieth century. First, his voluminous correspondence (previously inaccessible) was released to scholars in 1948; this resulted in the publication of his letters and in new assessments of his work. Second, an almost desperate effort by conservative intellectuals to counter modern liberalism spawned a subspecies of mostly Roman Catholic writers intent on invoking Burke as a champion of the “natural law” tradition. The third and most important factor was the rise of a Cold War mentality in America, which encouraged writers to apply Burke's anti-Jacobin arguments in the anticommunist crusade.

Keywords:   postwar America, Cold War, Cold War mentality, natural law, modern liberalism, communism, Burke's letters

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