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Dates & Events During Burke's Life
Edmund Burke

1729:
§ January: Burke is born.
1750:
§ Burke starts his study of the law by entering the Middle Temple.
§ Dr. Johnson is busy writing his dictionary.
1754:
§ Start of The Seven Years War.
1756:
§ Published A Vindication of Natural Society.
1757:
§ March: Marries Jane Nugent of Bath.
§ Published Sublime & Beautiful.
1759:
§ Wolfe takes Quebec.
§ Burke begins a six year political apprenticeship by becoming the private secretary and political advisor to William Gerald Hamilton (1729-96), "single-speech Hamilton."
1760:
§ George III becomes the king.
1763:
§ End of The Seven Years War and The Treaty Of Paris.
1765:
§ In July, Burke becomes the private secretary to the Marquis Rockingham (Charles Wentworth; 1730-1782). [A Whig, Rockingham was called in 1763 to form a government. "He repealed the Stamp Act and he would have done more for progress but for court intrigues ... he resigned in 1766 and opposed Lord North and his ruinous American policy. He [Rockingham] became premier in March 1782, but died four months later." (Chambers.)] Though most always on the opposition benches, on entering parliament, Burke was, for a short time, on the government side; "his first speech in the house of commons was on the Stamp Act, which Lord Rockingham had brought in a bill to repeal."
§ December, 23rd: The electors of Wendover chose Burke as their representative in Parliament.
1768:
§ Burke purchases his estate, "Gregories" near Beaconsfield.
1769:
§ Observations on the Present State of the Nation, a reply to George Grenville (1712-70). Two events which occurred during Grenville's administration was the prosecution of Wilkes and the passing of the American Stamp Act.
§ At around this time, Blackstone brings out his Commentaries on the Law of England.
1770:
§ On the Causes of the Present Discontents, re the Wilkes controversy. Incidently, it was in this piece that we see Burke, the first to do so, to argue there is value in having political parties.
§ The members of the "Long Parliament" take their seats, it sat for 15 years, until 1785.
1771:
§ Burke is chosen by the New York assembly as their London agent (just as Benjamin Franklin was that of Massachusetts.)
1773:
§ Burke loses his seat at Wendover, but through some contrivance manages to get the nod in Malton, but from which resigned in October for the seat at Bristol (From what I can determine, Burke was thus to represent three constituencies during the course of 1773?).
1774:
§ April 19th: Speech on American Taxation.
§ Quebec Act.
1775:
§ On Conciliation with the American Colonies.
1776:
§ This is the year, 1776, that Gibbon gives forth with his first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations; Jeremy Bentham, Fragments on Government; and Thomas Paine, Common Sense.
§ March 17th, British evacuate Boston.
§ July 2nd, The Continental Congress carries a motion for the independence of the 13 states on the east coast of America. Two days later the Declaration of Independence is adopted.
1777:
§ Letter to the Sheriff of Bristol.
1780:
§ Speech to the Electors of Bristol: In spite of his brilliant speech made Bristol Guildhall on September 6th, 1780, Burke loses his seat. Burke's loss came about as a result of his Irish support, both for trade and the Catholics. The Rockingham interests then found him a seat, the pocket borough of Malton, a seat Burke kept until 1794.
1781:
§ October 19th, British troops under Cornwallis surrender at Yorktown.
1783:
§ Mr Fox's East India Bill which took away governing power away from the East India Company.
§ December 13th, penal laws against Roman Catholics repealed.
1784:
§ Pitt defeats Fox and North at the polls. [Charles James Fox (1749-1808) was a supporter of Lord North up until 1775 when the two quarreled. Pitt described Fox as "the greatest debater the world was to ever saw." Lord North (1732-92) was the prime minister in 1770. History lays the American Revolution at his feet, in that, "he was too ready to surrender his judgment to the king's" in adopting policies that were repugnant to the English colonials.]
1785:
§ On October 20th, having sat for 15 years, the "Long Parliament" is dissolved.
§ The Big Bang of the Industrial Revolution occurs in England when, for first time, steam engines are used to power spinning machinery.
1788:
§ Impeachment of Warren Hastings, governor general of India, on corruption charges. Burke instigated the impeachment and made several speeches, "masterpieces of English eloquence."
1789:
§ The French court, the envy of and model for foreign courts, was, both literally and figuratively, - bankrupt; States General (like our parliament) is called into session, it had not assembled since 1610 (France, in the intervening years, was ruled by an absolute monarch). The French Revolution ensued; the absolute monarchy and its attending aristocratic order collapses. Through metamorphic leadership: - States General, the National Assembly, the Jacobins, the Revolutionary tribunal, the guillotine, Napoleon - in these years (between the execution of Louis XVI, 1793; and the Battle of Waterloo, 1815) blood, death and misery flow over France, and over onto the neighboring countries, and into every other part of the world that had been tainted by European "colonizers."
1790:
§ Burke publishes (November 1st) Reflections on the French Revolution, which his biographer, Kirk, describes as "the most brilliant work of English political philosophy."
1791:
§ To a member of the National Assembly, On The French Revolution, a public letter where Burke sets out his further views.
1792:
§ Paine's reply, The Rights of Man.
§ September massacres in Paris.
1793:
§ In January Louis XVI is beheaded.
§ Godwin's Political Justice appears.
§ As the French armies move in to "liberate" Holland, it seems clear that England and France are moving towards war.
§ Austria, Prussia, Spain, and Britain form an alliance against France (the "First Coalition.") Prussia retires after gobbling up Poland; Spain makes peace (July 1795); large parts of Holland and Belgium receive France as friends.
§ The trials of the "Reform-martyrs," Thomas Muir (1765-99) was one, who, with others, was transported to Botany Bay. These trials were part of the larger government effort to prosecute editors, nonconformists and radicals who were arguing for Parliamentary reform.
1794:
§ Burke retires; he is in debt; and, the government and the king rescue him by granting a pension. Burke and his wife were thus able to maintain their home, "Gregories," where Burke was able to live out the last of the few years left to him.
§ Howe's victory of the First of June with a French fleet shows the world that Britain continues to hold its old superiority at sea.
§ A simple device for separating cotton lint from seeds is patented by Eli Whitney (1765-1825).
1796:
§ A Letter ... To a Noble Lord. [Lord Bedford had objected to the pension which had been granted to Burke. This piece, consisting of 40 pages, as literature, as Hazlitt was to write "probably unsurpassed in the language for lofty and scornful invective." (Hazlitt thought it to be the most remarkable of all his writings.)]
§ The French conquer Italy and Austria deserts Britain in her struggle against France.
§ Jenner discovers vaccination.
1797:
§ In January, with Bonaparte having successfully invaded Italy and Spain coming in on the side of France, Britain withdrew her ships from the Mediterranean, which was to become a "French Lake" from January 1797 to May 1798.
§ By a parliamentary statute of Britain the torture of suspects and criminals was abolished.
§ John Adams (1735-1826) replaces George Washington (1732-1799) as the President of the United States.
§ Edmund Burke dies at Beaconsfield.


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Peter Landry
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2011