Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Corey Robin

Subject Categories

European History | History | Other History | Political Science


British politics, Burke, Edmund, Cecil, Hugh, Conservative Party, modern conservatism, political history


This thesis explores the circumstances by which Edmund Burke came to be regarded as the father of Anglo-conservatism. Conventional wisdom assumes Burke was hailed as a Conservative oracle from the moment Reflections on the Revolution in France appeared. In fact, nineteenth century Conservatives considered Burke a "Whig" who had erred on most critical issues: slavery, Crown prerogative, Ireland, empire.

In the twentieth century, however, the advent of universal suffrage and the demise of the Liberal party forced Conservatives to develop an identity which might compete with Labour's mass appeal. It also shifted the locus of Conservative ire from liberalism to socialism. Conservatives came to see themselves as protectors of the individual and their opponents as latter-day Jacobins obsessed with a reified State. A key figure is Hugh Cecil, whose Conservatism (1912) was among the first monographs to define Conservative identity in this way and to trace Conservatism's origins to Burke.