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Edmund Burke and the Conservative Logic of Empire$
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Daniel I. O`Neill

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520287822

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520287822.001.0001

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Burke and Empire in Context

Burke and Empire in Context

(p.19) Chapter 1 Burke and Empire in Context
Edmund Burke and the Conservative Logic of Empire

Daniel I. O’Neill

University of California Press

This chapter examines Edmund Burke's conception of empire in context by focusing on the etymology of the term empire and the ideology of British Empire in the eighteenth century. After discussing the definition of the term empire and what it had come to mean for the British in the eighteenth century, the chapter challenges the notion that Burke was an anti-imperialist or anticolonial thinker. Through extensive reference to his writings on America, India, and Ireland, it argues that Burke in fact willingly embraced and defended the British Empire over the entire course of his long political career and across all three principal sites of the eighteenth-century empire. In India, for example, Burke exculpated the East India Company in general and Robert Clive and his immediate successors in particular for the horrors of the Bengal famine. The chapter concludes by analyzing Burke's conservative logic of empire.

Keywords:   empire, Edmund Burke, British Empire, America, India, Ireland, Robert Clive, East India Company, Bengal, famine

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