John Morley and the liberal imagination: The uses of history in English liberal culture, 1867-1914
Title: John Morley and the liberal imagination: The uses of history in English liberal culture, 1867-1914
Author: DE WAARD, Jacob Marinus
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2007
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The aim of the present study is to offer a new understanding of the ‘uses of history’ in English liberal culture between the passing of the Second Reform Act of 1867 and Britain’s entrance in the First World War in August 1914. Culturally as well as politically, this period is commonly recognised as having a distinctive character for which the epithet ‘liberal’ offers an apposite shorthand. Although the period saw long spells of conservative administration (under Derby, Disraeli, Salisbury, and Balfour) as well as the liberal ministries of Gladstone, Rosebery, Campbell-Bannerman, and Asquith, it is often called a liberal age, or construed as the heyday of English liberal politics, because liberal values and the memory of an exceptional liberal heritage pervaded political life and the organisation of society. Just to sum up: the years from 1867 to 1914 saw the extension of the franchise to almost all the male population (in the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884), diminishing property qualifications, disestablishment of the Church in Ireland and Wales, political consensus in regard to free trade up until the late 1890s, and the last days and slow demise of the Gladstonian minimal state with its reliance on subsidiarity, voluntarism, self-help, and a spirit of civic duty. In comparison to the heavily centralised states of the European continent, England continued to have a ‘minimally centralised system of governance’ until the end of the nineteenth century, a system in which citizens saw a source of national pride and proof of England’s superior, vanguard role in the world as the cradle of parliamentary government and civic liberties.
LC Subject Heading: Morley, John, 1838-1923; Liberalism -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century; Great Britain -- Politics and government -- 1837-1901
Defence date: 26 June 2007; Examining board: Prof. Martin van Gelderen, EUI (Supervisor) ; Prof. Ann Rigney, Utrecht University (External Supervisor) ; Prof. Arfon Rees, EUI ; Prof. Norman Vance, University of Sussex
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