French Revolution Debate in Britain: The Origins of Modern Politics

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Overview

Gregory Claeys explores the reception of the French Revolution in Britain through the medium of its leading interpreters. Claeys argues that the major figures--Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and John Thelwall--collectively laid the foundations for political debate for the following century, and longer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780333626467
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Series: British History in Perspective Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

GREGORY CLAEYS is Professor of the History of Political Thought at Royal Holloway University of London.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     viii
Chronology     ix
Introduction: The Origins of Modern Political Discourse     1
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and the Origins of Conservatism     11
Background     11
The Revolution Commences     11
Burke's Main Arguments     14
The Reception of the Reflections     23
The Development of Burke's Thought after the Reflections     25
Burke's Later Reputation     32
Thomas Paine: Rights of Man (1791-2) and the Origins of Radicalism     35
Background     35
Rights of Man (1791-2)     35
Paine's Religious Thought: The Age of Reason (1794)     41
Reinforcing Property Rights: Agrarian Justice (1796)     44
The Reception and later Reputation of Paine's Ideas     47
Mary Wollstonecraft: Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) and the Origins of Feminism     49
Wollstonecraft's Life     49
From the Vindication of the Rights of Men to the Vindication of the Rights of Woman     50
The Development of Wollstonecraft's Thought     65
Wollstonecraft's Reputation     66
The Spectre of 'Levelling': Loyalists and Paineites, c. 1791-5     68
Introduction     68
Responses to Burke     70
West of Hounslow: The Growth of Popular Radicalism     75
The Emergence of Loyalism     79
Responses to Paine     80
The Popular Debate in Decline c. 1793-1800     92
Conclusion     97
Varieties of Whiggism: Fox, Sheridan and the Whig Party, 1791-3     99
Introduction: Whigs Unwhigged?: Fragmented Loyalties     99
Whigs and Newer Whigs: Charles James Fox and Richard Brinsley Sheridan     100
Whig Radicalism: The Society of the Friends of the People and the Revolution Society     111
Conclusion     116
William Godwin: The Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) and the Origins of Philosophical Anarchism     118
Life and Background     118
The Central Doctrines of the Enquiry Concerning Political Justice     119
The Enquirer (1797) and Godwin's Later Views: Doubts Respecting Simplicity     129
The Reception of Political Justice     134
Conclusion     137
John Thelwall: Luxury, Property and the Rights of Labour     138
Introduction     138
Republicanism, Poverty and Luxury: Thelwall's Intellectual Development and Significance     138
Virtuous Poverty Abandoned: The Rights of Nature Against the Usurpations of Establishments (1796)     144
Conclusion     152
Conclusion     154
The Aftermath     154
Epilogue: Exit Strategies     155
Godwin and Malthus     155
Charles Hall and the Origins of Socialism     159
Conclusion: The Prelude to Modern Liberty and Equality     163
Notes     165
Reading List: Major Figures     237
Index     241
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