Scottish perspectives on war and patriotism in the 1790s

Plassart, Anna (2014). Scottish perspectives on war and patriotism in the 1790s. The Historical Journal, 57(1) pp. 107–129.




The article examines Scottish discussions surrounding the French revolutionary wars in the early and mid-1790s. It argues that these discussions were not built along the lines of the dispute that set Burke against the English radicals, because arguments about French ‘cosmopolitan’ love for mankind were largely irrelevant in the context of Smithian moral philosophy. The Scottish writers who observed French developments in the period (including the Edinburgh Moderates, James Mackintosh, John Millar, and Lord Lauderdale) were, however, particularly interested in what they interpreted as France's changing notion of patriotism, and built upon the heritage of Smithian moral philosophy in order to offer original and powerful commentaries of French national feeling and warfare. They identified the ‘enthusiastic’ nature of French national sentiment, and the replacement of traditional patriotism with a new form of relationship between the individual and the nation, as the most significant and dangerous element to come out of the French Revolution.

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