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About The Book:

Revolution and Constitutionalism in Britain and the United States
Burke, Madison and Their Contemporary Legacies

By David A.J. RichardsRoutledge, October 2023


Edmund Burke 18th-century Irish statesman, philosopher, and political theorist

James Madison, called the "Father of the Constitution" because of his pivotal role in drafting the United States Constitution.


In Revolution and Constitutionalism in Britain and the U.S.: Burke and Madison and Their Contemporary Legacies, David A. J. Richards offers an investigative comparison of two central figures in late eighteenth-century constitutionalism, Edmund Burke and James Madison, at a time when two great constitutional experiments were in play: the Constitution of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the U.S. Constitution of 1787.


Richards assesses how much, as liberal Lockean constitutionalists, Burke and Madison shared and yet differed regarding violent revolution, offering three pathbreaking and original contributions about Burke’s importance. 


First, the book defends Burke as a central figure in the development and understanding of liberal constitutionalism; second, it explores the psychology that led to his liberal voice, including Burke’s own long-term loving relationship to another man; and third, it shows how Burke’s understanding of the political psychology of the violence of “political religions'' is an enduring contribution to understanding fascist threats to political liberalism from the eighteenth-century onwards, including the contemporary constitutional crises in the U.S. and U.K. deriving from populist movements.


The book explores Burke’s critique of  violent revolution (including not only the French Revolution but the American Revolution as well) and of the political psychology of violence in the British Empire (Ireland and India). Richards compares the relative appeal of British and U.S. constitutionalism as models for liberal constitutionalism,  the common response of the U.K. and U.S. to World War II innovating new models (domestic and international) for the protection of human rights,  the relevance of Burke on “political  religion” to understanding the reactionary appeal of originalism in both nations  (including the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v Wade), and concluding reflections on Burke’s enduring contributions to both liberalism and political psychology.


Mixing thorough research with personal experiences, this book will be an invaluable resource to scholars of political science and theory, constitutional law, history, political psychology, and LGBTQ+ issues.

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About The Author

David A. J. Richards is Edwin D. Webb Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law and is the author of numerous articles and over 20 books, including A Theory of Reasons for Action (Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1971); Sex, Drugs, Death and the Law: An Essay on Human Rights and Decriminalization (Totowa: Rowman & Littlefield, 1982); Toleration and the Constitution (NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1986); Foundation of American Constitutionalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Conscience and the Constitution: History, Theory, and Law of the Reconstruction Amendments (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Women, Gays, and the Constitution: The Grounds for Feminism and Gay Rights in Culture and Law (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998); Italian American: The Racializing of an Ethnic Identity (New York: New York University Press, 1999); Resisting Injustice and the Feminist Ethics of Care in the Age of Obama: “Suddenly, All the Truth Was Coming Out” (New York: Routledge, 2013); Free Speech and the Politics of Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Disarming Manhood: Roots of Ethical Resistance (Athens: Swallow Press, 2003); The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy’s Future (with Carol Gilligan) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Darkness Now Visible: Patriarchy’s Resurgence and Feminist Resistance (with Carol Gilligan) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018); Patriarchal Religion, Sexuality, and Gender: A Critique of New Natural Law (with Nicholas Bamforth) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law: Obama’s Challenge to Patriarchy Threat to Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Why Love Leads to Justice: Love across the Boundaries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); The Rise of Gay Rights and the Fall of the British Empire: Liberal Resistance and the Bloomsbury Group (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Identity and the Case for Gay Rights: Race, Gender, Religion as Analogies (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Boys’ Secrets and Men’s Loves: A Memoir (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2019); and the recent Holding a Mirror Up to Nature: Shame, Guilt, and Violence in Shakespeare (with James Gilligan) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022).



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