Edmund Burke – Biography

Below is the detailed biography of an Anglo Irish politician in Great Britain during the 17th century. He was a parliamentary orator and was known to be active during the years 1765 to 1795. He was a prominent political thinker in the Victorian era.

Early Life of Edmund Burke

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A portrait of Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke was born on 12th of January 1729, in the city of Dublin, Ireland. His father was a British Barrister, also known as Solicitor of the British court. His father hoped for his to continue the family legacy of Barristorship and hence, sent him to Trinity College in Dublin in 1744.

In 1750, Burke moved to London to pursue Law at the Middle College. However, he found himself distracted and didn’t want to pursue Law anymore. He wandered across England and France and was much involved in the politics of society. This led to a negativity between him and his father because his father wanted him to focus on his career in Law.

In the same year of 1756, he anonymously published, ‘A Vindication of Natural Society’ which was a criticism to the changing situations in England that was leading to misery and evil that affected mankind in many ways. It was a satire of Lord Bolingbroke’s deism.

In the following year of 1757, another book was published by him called ‘A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful’. This was based on the rationalized difference between beautiful and sublime on the basis of a philosophical exposition. This book gained him a lot of recognition and attracted the attention of other great philosophical thinkers like Immanuel Kant and Denis Diterong.

He is known for his ‘Annual Register’ that was a book that maintained a record of the yearly survey of world affairs. He published the first volume in 1758.

Political Life of Edmund Burke

In 1765, Edmund Burke entered the House of Commons in the Parliament of England as the Secretary of the Marquess of Rockingham. The Marquess of Rockingham was one of the leaders of the Whig Party. Until the death of the Marquess in 1782, he served as Secretary after which he worked to bring about unity in the Whig Party in Rockingham.

He was very active in the political affairs in the year of the reign of King George III. He was very involved in the constitutional controversy of the Parliament vs Kingship reign of England during the time of King George III. He also published a pamphlet called ‘Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents’ in 1770. He argued that the actions of the King were against the spirit of the constitution.

He was against the favoritism of ministers by the king and leaned on to promoting a constitutional government. He proposed that there must be a body or a party that acts as the link between people and the King and they must be chosen by the people.

In 1774, he was the member of Parliament at Bristol and served in the same position for six years until he was subjected to a vote of no confidence when he had to resign. However, he did not stop there. He later became the parliamentary member of Malton where he remained for many years.

Burke was of the opinion that the British monarchy operating from England has wide control over Ireland and that according to him was unfair. He worked to the curtailing the rights and authorities of the monarchy. He, therefore, was majorly connected when the 1782 bills were passed by the Whigs party in Rockingham for the amount allocated for the lifestyle and household expenses of the sovereign, that is the King.

His speeches and actions on the American Taxation system in 1774 and conflicts with the American colonies influenced the Declaratory system in a positive manner for the Americans. He also made an account of the colonies of the British and their increasing economic problems.

Mainly, he played a major role in the growth of his native country, that is, Ireland. He was against the political dependence of Ireland on the British and demanded this legislative freedom.

Personal Life of Edmund Burke

Burke married the daughter of a physician who treated him regularly. Her name was Jane Mary Nugent and was Catholic by birth. They married on the 12th of March 1757. They had a son together – Richard, who later became a barrister and a member of the Parliament of England. They’re first born, Christopher died as a baby.

Death of Edmund Burke

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Another portrait of Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke suffered from a stomach disorder in his early 60s. He died in the county of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire at the age of 68. He lived a life known for fighting for his beliefs and arguing for his country providing them a free legislative parliament and making his contribution to putting an end to colonialism.

Quotes by Edmund Burke

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Quotes by Edmund Burke
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust than a feeble government.
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.
Falsehood is a perennial spring.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature.
People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
Free trade is not based on utility but on justice.
The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.
When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.
The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
Our patience will achieve more than our force.
– Edmund Burke (1730 – 1797)
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