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Whigging out.

Even such a learned scholar as David Bromwich ("Right Reflections," May 18), who has edited Edmund Burke's letters, does not mention that Burke was a Whig, not a Tory, which is why he never described himself as a conservative. He called himself an "Old Whig," a term that F.A. Hayek used to describe his own political center of gravity. The Old Whigs were those in the Whig Party who opposed the French Revolution.

Other than that, Burke has little in common with the conservatives. He supported the American colonists in seeking independence from the Crown and emphasized the importance of trade when the Tories still supported the antitrade Corn Laws. The Whigs were the precursors of the Liberals, their leading statesman being Melbourne, a man who disliked change but sought to manage it when it was absolutely necessary to prevent a revolution.

Melbourne would have considered today's Republicans to be laughable, mostly because they have no class.


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Title Annotation:Forum
Author:Cummings, Richard
Publication:The American Conservative
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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