Rethinking Nineteenth-Century Liberalism : Richard Cobden Bicentenary Essays book cover
1st Edition

Rethinking Nineteenth-Century Liberalism
Richard Cobden Bicentenary Essays

ISBN 9781138259348
Published February 27, 2017 by Routledge
318 Pages

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Book Description

Richard Cobden (1804-65) rose from humble beginnings to become the leading advocate of nineteenth-century free-trade and liberalism. As a fierce opponent of the Corn Laws and promoter of international trade he rapidly became an influential figure on the national stage, whose name became a byword for political and economic reform. Yet despite the familiarity with which contemporaries and historians refer to 'Cobdenism' his ideals and beliefs are not always easy to identify and classify in a coherent way. Indeed, as this volume makes clear, the variety, diversity and malleability of the 'Cobdenite project' attest to the lack of a strict dogma and highlight Cobden's underlying pragmatism. Divided into five sections, this collection of essays offers a timely reassessment of Cobden's career, its impact and legacy in the two hundred years since his birth. Beginning with an investigation into the intellectual and cultural background to his emergence as a national political figure, the volume then looks at Cobden's impact on the making of Victorian liberal politics. The third section examines Cobden's wider influence in Europe, particularly the impact of his tour of 1846-47 which was in many ways a defining moment not only in the making of Cobden's liberalism but in the making of liberal Europe. Section four broadens the theme of Cobden's contemporary impact, including his contribution to the debate on peace, internationalism and the American Civil War; whilst the final section opens up the theme of Cobden's contested legacy, the variety of interpretations of Cobden's ideas and their influence on late nineteenth- and twentieth-century politics. Offering a broad yet coherent investigation of the 'Cobdenite project' by leading international scholars, this volume provides a fascinating insight into one of the nineteenth century's most important figures whose ideas still resonate today.

Table of Contents

Contents: General editor's preface; Preface; Introduction, Anthony Howe. Part 1 From 'Manchester Manufacturer' to English Hero: Phrenological friends: Cobden and his 'father confessor' George Combe, David Stack; From warehouse clerk to Corn Law celebrity: the making of a national hero, Simon Morgan. Part 2 Cobden and Liberal Politics in Britain: Cobden and democracy, Roland Quinault; Cobden, free trade, and the road to the Abbey National, F.M.L. Thompson; Cobden and the press, David Brown. Part 3 Reconfiguring the Political Economy of Liberal Europe: La Ligue Française: the Anti-Corn Law League and campaign for economic liberalism in France during the last years of the July Monarchy, Alex Tyrrell; The Cobdenian moment in the Italian Risorgimento, Roberto Romani; 'Not entirely a Manchester man': Richard Cobden and the construction of Manchesterism in 19th-century German economic thinking, Detlev Mares; Greek responses to Cobden, Pandeleimon Hionidis. Part 4 Reconstructing the 'International Man': Cobden: the international man, Keith Robbins; Cobden and peace, Martin Ceadel; Richard Cobden's American quandary: negotiating peace, free trade, and anti-slavery, Stephen Meardon. Part 5 Reinventing Richard Cobden: 'You know your father's heart'. The Cobden sisterhood and the legacy of Richard Cobden, Sarah Richardson; Between feudalists and communists: Louis Mallet and the Cobden creed, Donald Winch; The resurrection and decomposition of Cobden in Britain and the west: an essay in the politics of reputation, Frank Trentmann. Index.

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Anthony Howe is Professor of Modern History at the University of East Anglia, UK. Simon Morgan Lecturer in Cultural and Social History at the University of Leicester, UK.


’This book of excellent essays is well worth the attention of historians of economic and political thought as well as of English Liberalism.’ EH.NET ’This collection manages to examine some of the major themes of radical reform that shaped nineteenth-century liberalism, to broaden the impact of Cobdenism on Europe, and to consider some of the contested elements of his legacy... The intended audience for this volume is academic, and scholars of liberalism, international relations, and nineteenth-century politics will read these essays profitably. It ought to be in every university library.’ Journal of British Studies ’The 15 essays in this collection, together with the substantial introduction by the editors who give a careful summary of each contribution, maintain a high standard in terms of scholarship throughout and they cover a wide range of topics.’ Economic History Review