(January 12, 1729 – July 9, 1797)
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke was an author of philosophy, orator, and political classic. Known as the father of modern conservatism, he was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of a prominent attorney. He was home-schooled early on and later became a boarder at a school run by Abraham Shackleton, a Quaker from Yorkshire. After boarding in County Kildare, Burke attended university at Trinity College, Dublin. His political enemies accused him of being educated at the Jesuit seminary of St. Omer’s and harboring Catholic sympathies, which at the time would have disqualified him from holding public office. After graduation, he proceeded to law school in Middle Temple in London, but soon discovered he had no calling for the legal profession, opting instead to pursue a literary career.
In February 1757 Burke, along with Robert Dodsley, was commissioned to write a “history of England from the time of Julius Caesar to the end of the reign of Queen Anne.” Burke completed to the year 1216, but never published the work himself. It wasn’t until 1812—when found among his papers—that the book was published.
The following year, also in partnership with Dodsley, Burke created the influential Annual Register, a publication in which various authors evaluated the international political events of the previous year. The amount of Burke’s individual contribution to the Register is unknown, but he remained its editor in chief until at least 1789.
In 1765, Burke became the private secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham and entered the British Parliament as a member of the House of Commons for Wendover, a pocket borough in the control of Lord Fermanagh, a close political ally of Rockingham. After Burke’s maiden speech, William Pitt the Elder remarked that Burke had “spoken in such a manner as to stop the mouths of all Europe” and that the Commons should congratulate itself on acquiring such a member. He remained in the British House of Commons for nearly 29 years.
Burke expressed his support for the grievances of the American colonies under the government of King George III and his appointed representatives. He made a speech that was published in January 1775 on a motion to repeal the tea tax. He was a strong advocate of allowing the colonies to break peacefully away from Britain, as the colonists were “the American English, our English Brethren in the colonies.”
Burke highly contested the French Revolution, primarily due to the extreme violence employed by the French Revolutionaries, whom he referred to as the “swinish multitude”. He wrote many treatises on both domestic and international affairs, turning his attention in his later years to his native Ireland and the rights of Catholics. He failed to establish a political dynasty, nor did he leave a straightforward legacy to any ideology, though many have attempted to co-opt him. Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is understood to be the manifesto of Conservative thought.
—Joan Schaefer Poach
About the Author:
Religious, spiritual and liberty-loving Joan Schaefer-Poach has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Connecticut since she was three weeks old. Both her mother and her grandmother were Past Department Presidents of the organization for the state of Connecticut, and, in 1997, Joan followed in their footsteps. This made history within the organization, as Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only two states in the country who have had three generations of members serve as Department President.
Joan currently works as a Technical Support Group supervisor for Cablevision in Shelton CT, in a 500- person-plus facility with a group that consists primarily of entry-level individuals fresh out of college. As a result, she experiences first-hand the entitlement attitude that is taught in the public school system and fights diligently to eliminate it in the workplace.
Fed up with the “hate America first” attitude that has taken over the schools from kindergarten all the way through college, Joan believes that the only way to fix this country is by exposing youngsters to our history in a way that brings it to vibrant life — as opposed to the dull recitation of dates and facts. There’s an old saying that states, “what’s past is prologue”, and if we want this country to once again be free of the onerous links to socialism and fascism, our children need our guidance. Joan fervently hopes to assist with this effort.
Editor’s Note: Joan is dedicating all of her contributions to the memory of Andrew Breitbart. RIP.
Category: American Trailblazers