Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 January 2021
This chapter focuses on the fortunes of Burke’s party engagements and his views on party in the decades after the Present Discontents (1770). America, India, and especially the French Revolution are treated insofar as they are related to party. The American Crisis gave coherence to both government and opposition, and because they had repealed the Stamp Act, the Rockingham Whigs could pose as the real friends of America. Following the French Revolution, however, Burke split dramatically with Charles James Fox, who had emerged as party leader after the death of Burke’s master Rockingham in 1782. In his Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (1791), Burke contended that he had not abandoned his party’s principles and that it was the Foxite Whigs who had morphed into a new party. The chapter demonstrates, however, that while Burke believed that the French Revolution rendered old party battles largely irrelevant, he had not lost his confidence in the idea of party as such.
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