Action of Prudence: Edmund Burke on American Policy
|關鍵字:||美國革命;柏克;大英帝國;憲政權利;審慎;American Revolution;Edmund Burke;British Empire;Constitutional Rights;Prudence||公開日期:||2010||摘要:||在七年戰爭之後英國為了減輕帝國財務的負擔而改變了對北美殖民地的政策向其徵稅，人民不堪其擾而引起了許多的抗爭與騷亂。英國國會中的羅金漢輝格派的人士主張恢復舊體制與美洲和解以獲得帝國內的和平，柏克身為羅金漢輝格派的文膽，有大量的與美洲相關的演說與文稿。後代學者對於柏克的美洲政策褒貶不一，有些學者，例如克拉克，質疑柏克對美洲的認識其實是很不足的。本文試圖從柏克的演說及文稿中進一步的分析與探討柏克的美洲政策所依據的原則與概念，並與同時期的北美洲人士的言論比較，結果將柏克所依據的原則分成了三個主要的原則：代表與徵稅權、自由權利，以及帝國的利益，其中帝國的利益是柏克最主要的關懷。柏克以審慎的態度為核心，力求維持帝國內的最大利益，在他看來，內戰不會帶來有價值的益處，所以他反對內戰，力求英國與美洲和解。雖然有人批評柏克沒有清楚認識美洲人民對獨立的嚮往，然而考慮到一方面柏克書信往來的對象主要都是效忠派的人士，另一方面美洲人民雖然有考慮獨立，但缺乏堅決的文字，而且柏克確實主張持續的壓迫會迫使美洲人民走向獨立，可見儘管柏克一生沒有踏上過美洲大陸，然而其對美洲風氣的掌握堪稱準確。
The British Empire changed its policy and levied taxes from the American colonies to relieve the heavy burden of Empire; however, this new policy provoked a series of turmoil as the result. The Rockingham Whigs asserted that British Government should return back to the old colonial policy to acquire tranquility in the Empire. As a leading speaker and writer among Rockingham Whigs, Edmund Burke left abundant works on American Affairs. Evaluation of these works is still controversial among modern scholars. Some scholars believe that Burke''s understanding on American Affairs is very shallow. This thesis attempted to analyze Burke''s works and discuss the principles and concepts these works based on, as well as compare with the works of contemporary American writers. I found that his argument was basically founded on three principles: the right of representation and taxation, liberty, and last but not the least, the interest of the Empire. Burke pursued the greatest interest for the British Empire with the attitude of prudence, and believed that civil war would not bring any valuable benefits for the Empire. Therefore, he asserted conciliation and peace with the American colonies. Some scholars criticized Burke for not aware of the general desire for independence in the American colonies; nonetheless, Burke’s correspondence were mainly with the loyalties in the New York colony, and also there were not many documents firmly asserted for independence. As Burke did predict that continuous oppression would force the people to the road of independence, he really held a quite precise understanding toward the situation in American colonies although he had never been there.
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