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"Beyond the Law"
The Politics of Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain
Charles Upchurch
Temple University Press, 2021

In nineteenth-century England, sodomy was punishable by death; even an accusation could damage a man’s reputation for life. The last executions for this private, consensual act were in 1835, but the effort to change the law that allowed for those executions was intense and precarious, and not successful until 1861. In this groundbreaking book, “Beyond the Law,” noted historian Charles Upchurch pieces together fragments from history and uses a queer history methodology to recount the untold story of the political process through which the law allowing for the death penalty for sodomy was almost ended in 1841.

Upchurch recounts the legal and political efforts of reformers like Jeremy Bentham and Lord John Russell—the latter of whom argued that the death penalty for sodomy was “beyond the law and above the law.” He also reveals that a same-sex relationship linked the families of the two men responsible for co-sponsoring the key legislation. By recovering the various ethical, religious, and humanitarian arguments against punishing sodomy, “Beyond the Law” overturns longstanding assumptions of nineteenth-century British history. Upchurch demonstrates that social change came from an amalgam of reformist momentum, family affection, elitist politics, class privilege, enlightenment philosophy, and personal desires.


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David Lloyd George
The Politics of Religious Conviction
Jerry Gaw
University of Tennessee Press, 2022

Born on January 17, 1863, in Manchester, England, David Lloyd George is perhaps best known for his service as prime minister of the United Kingdom during the second half of World War I. While many biographies have chronicled his life and political endeavors, few, if any, have explored how his devotion to democratic doctrines in the Church of Christ shaped his political perspectives and choices both before and during the First World War. In David Lloyd George: The Politics of Religious Conviction, Jerry L. Gaw bridges this gap in scholarship, showcasing George’s religious roots and their impact on his politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

With a comprehensive narrative that spans more than a century, Gaw’s book ranges beyond typical biography and examines how the work and theology of Alexander Campbell, a founder

of the Stone-Campbell Movement in America, influenced a prominent world leader. George’s twelve diaries and the more than three thousand letters he wrote to his brother between 1886 and 1943 provide the foundation for Gaw’s thorough analysis of George’s beliefs and politics. Taken together, these texts illuminate his lifelong adherence to the Church of Christ in Britain and how his faith, in turn, contributed to his proclivity for championing humanitarian, egalitarian, and popular political policies beginning with the first of his fifty-five years in the British Parliament.

Broadly, Gaw’s study helps us to understand how the Stone-Campbell tradition—and later, Churches of Christ—became contextualized in the British Isles over the course of the nineteenth century. His significant mining of primary materials successively reveals a lesser-known side of David Lloyd George, in large part explaining how he arrived at the political decisions that helped shape history.


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Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?
Missionaries, Journalists, Explorers, and Empire
Clare Pettitt
Harvard University Press, 2007

When the American reporter Henry Morton Stanley stepped out of the jungle in 1871 and doffed his pith helmet to the Scottish missionary-explorer Dr. David Livingstone, his greeting was to take on mythological proportions. But do any of us really know what his words meant at the time--and what they have come to mean since?

Far from meeting in a remote thicket in "Darkest Africa," Stanley met Livingstone in the middle of a thriving Muslim community. The news of their encounter was transmitted around the globe, and Livingstone instantly became one of the world's first international celebrities.

This book shows how urgently a handshake between a Briton and an American was needed to heal the rift between the two countries after the American Civil War. It uncovers for the first time the journeys that Livingstone's African servants made around Britain after his death, and it makes a case for Stanley's immense influence on the idea of the modern at the dawn of the twentieth century. Drawing on films, children's books, games, songs, cartoons, and TV shows, this book reveals the many ways our culture has remembered Stanley's phrase, while tracking the birth of an Anglo-American Christian imperialism that still sets the world agenda today.

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? is a story of conflict and paradox that also takes us into the extraordinary history of British engagement with Africa. Clare Pettitt shows both the bleakest side of imperialism and the strange afterlife of a historical event in popular mythmaking and music hall jokes.


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Empire And Imperialism
Peter Cain
St. Augustine's Press, 1999

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English Lessons
The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century China
James L. Hevia
Duke University Press, 2003
Inserting China into the history of nineteenth-century colonialism, English Lessons explores the ways that Euroamerican imperial powers humiliated the Qing monarchy and disciplined the Qing polity in the wake of multipower invasions of China in 1860 and 1900. Focusing on the processes by which Great Britain enacted a pedagogical project that was itself a form of colonization, James L. Hevia demonstrates how British actors instructed the Manchu-Chinese elite on “proper” behavior in a world dominated by multiple imperial powers. Their aim was to “bring China low” and make it a willing participant in British strategic goals in Asia. These lessons not only transformed the Qing dynasty but ultimately contributed to its destruction.

Hevia analyzes British Foreign Office documents, diplomatic memoirs, auction house and museum records, nineteenth-century scholarly analyses of Chinese history and culture, campaign records, and photographs. He shows how Britain refigured its imperial project in
China as a cultural endeavor through examinations of the circulation of military loot in Europe, the creation of an art history of “things Chinese,” the construction of a field of knowledge about China, and the Great Game rivalry between Britain, Russia, and the Qing empire in Central Asia. In so doing, he illuminates the impact of these elements on the colonial project and the creation of a national consciousness in China.


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The Fenians
Irish Rebellion in the North Atlantic World, 1858–1876
Patrick Steward
University of Tennessee Press, 2013
Aspirations of social mobility and anti-Catholic discrimination were the lifeblood of subversive opposition to British rule in Ireland during the mid-nineteenth century.  Refugees of the Great Famine who congregated in ethnic enclaves in North America and the United Kingdom supported the militant Fenian Brotherhood and its Dublin-based counterpart, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), in hopes of one day returning to an independent homeland.  Despite lackluster leadership, the movement was briefly a credible security threat which impacted the history of nations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Inspired by the failed Young Ireland insurrection of 1848 and other nationalist movements on the European continent, the Fenian Brotherhood and the IRB (collectively known as the Fenians) surmised that insurrection was the only path to Irish freedom.  By 1865, the Fenians had filled their ranks with battle-tested Irish expatriate veterans of the
Union and Confederate armies who were anxious to liberate Ireland.  Lofty Fenian ambitions were ultimately compromised by several factors including United States government opposition and the resolution of volunteer Canadian militias who repelled multiple Fenian incursions into New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba.  The Fenian legacy is thus multi-faceted.  It was a mildly-threatening source of nationalist pride for discouraged Irish expatriates until the organization fulfilled its pledge to violently attack British soldiers and subjects.  It also encouraged the confederation of Canadian provinces under the 1867 Dominion Act.

In this book, Patrick Steward and Bryan McGovern present the first holistic, multi-national study of the Fenian movement.  While utilizing a vast array of previously untapped primary sources, the authors uncover the socio-economic roots of Irish nationalist behavior at the height of the Victorian Period.  Concurrently, they trace the progression of Fenian ideals in the grassroots of Young Ireland to its de facto collapse in 1870s.  In doing so, the authors change the perception of the Fenians from fanatics who aimlessly attempted to free their homeland to idealists who believed in their cause and fought with a physical and rhetorical force that was not nonsensical and hopeless as some previous accounts have suggested.

PATRICK STEWARD works in the Mayo Clinic Development Office in Rochester, Minnesota. He obtained a Ph.D. in Irish History at University of Missouri under the direction of Kerby Miller.  Patrick additionally holds two degrees from Tufts University and he was a strategic intelligence analyst at the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C. early in his professional career.

BRYAN MCGOVERN is an associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia.  He is author of the widely praised 2009 book John Mitchel, Irish Nationalist, Southern Secessionist and has written various articles, chapters, and book reviews on Irish and Irish-American nationalism.


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A Greater Ireland
The Land League and Transatlantic Nationalism in Gilded Age America
Ely M. Janis
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
During the early 1880s a continual interaction of events, ideas, and people in Ireland and the United States created a "Greater Ireland" spanning the Atlantic that profoundly impacted both Irish and American society. In A Greater Ireland: The Land League and Transatlantic Nationalism in Gilded Age America, Ely M. Janis closely examines the Irish National Land League, a transatlantic organization with strong support in Ireland and the United States. Founded in Ireland in 1879 against the backdrop of crop failure and agrarian unrest, the Land League pressured the British government to reform the Irish landholding system and allow Irish political self-rule. The League quickly spread to the United States, with hundreds of thousands of Irish Americans participating in branches in their local communities.
            As this "Greater Ireland" flourished, new opportunities arose for women and working-class men to contribute within Irish-American society. Exploring the complex interplay of ethnicity, class, and gender, Janis demonstrates the broad range of ideological, social, and political opinion held by Irish Americans in the 1880s. Participation in the Land League deeply influenced a generation that replaced their old county and class allegiances with a common cause, shaping the future of Irish-American nationalism.

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The Humours of Parliament
Harry Furniss's View of Late-Victorian Political Culture
Gareth Cordery and Joseph S. Meisel
The Ohio State University Press, 2014
Harry Furniss (1854–1925), a leading contributor to Punch and other important illustrated magazines, was arguably the most significant political caricaturist and illustrator of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. He was widely celebrated in his time, and his cartoons helped to define the political world in the public mind. The Humours of Parliament was Furniss’s hugely successful illustrated lecture that he staged throughout the U.K., North America, and Australia during the 1890s. Entertaining his audiences with anecdotes, mimicry, and jokes—along with the spectacle of more than 100 magic lantern slides—Furniss gave his audiences an insider’s view of the mysterious workings of Parliament and the leading political personalities of the day, such as Gladstone, Balfour, and Chamberlain.
Reproducing some 150 images drawn from Furniss’s extensive graphic work, The Humours of Parliament: Harry Furniss’s View of Late-Victorian Political Culture, edited and with an introduction by Gareth Cordery and Joseph S. Meisel, presents Furniss’s unpublished lecture text for the first time. The extensive introduction places the show in its biographical, political, and performative contexts. Cordery and Meisel’s volume therefore both documents a pivotal moment in British political and social history and provides a rare case study of an important yet little studied nineteenth-century performance genre: the illustrated platform lecture.

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Social, Political, and Religious
Gustave de Beaumont
Harvard University Press, 2006

Paralleling his friend Alexis de Tocqueville's visit to America, Gustave de Beaumont traveled through Ireland in the mid-1830s to observe its people and society. In Ireland, he chronicles the history of the Irish and offers up a national portrait on the eve of the Great Famine. Published to acclaim in France, Ireland remained in print there until 1914. The English edition, translated by William Cooke Taylor and published in 1839, was not reprinted.

In a devastating critique of British policy in Ireland, Beaumont questioned why a government with such enlightened institutions tolerated such oppression. He was scathing in his depiction of the ruinous state of Ireland, noting the desperation of the Catholics, the misery of repeated famines, the unfair landlord system, and the faults of the aristocracy. It was not surprising the Irish were seen as loafers, drunks, and brutes when they had been reduced to living like beasts. Yet Beaumont held out hope that British liberal reforms could heal Ireland's wounds.

This rediscovered masterpiece, in a single volume for the first time, reproduces the nineteenth-century Taylor translation and includes an introduction on Beaumont and his world. This volume also presents Beaumont's impassioned preface to the 1863 French edition in which he portrays the appalling effects of the Great Famine.

A classic of nineteenth-century political and social commentary, Beaumont's singular portrait offers the compelling immediacy of an eyewitness to history.


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Living Liberalism
Practical Citizenship in Mid-Victorian Britain
Elaine Hadley
University of Chicago Press, 2010

In the mid-Victorian era, liberalism was a practical politics: it had a party, it informed legislation, and it had adherents who identified with and expressed it as opinion. It was also the first British political movement to depend more on people than property, and on opinion rather than interest. But how would these subjects of liberal politics actually live liberalism?

To answer this question, Elaine Hadley focuses on the key concept of individuation—how it is embodied in politics and daily life and how it is expressed through opinion, discussion and sincerity.  These are concerns that have been absent from commentary on the liberal subject. Living Liberalism argues that the properties of liberalism—citizenship, the vote, the candidate, and reform, among others—were developed in response to a chaotic and antagonistic world. In exploring how political liberalism imagined its impact on Victorian society, Hadley reveals an entirely new and unexpected prehistory of our modern liberal politics. A major revisionist account that alters our sense of the trajectory of liberalism, Living Liberalism revises our understanding of the presumption of the liberal subject.


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Richard Cobden
Independent Radical
Nicholas C. Edsall
Harvard University Press, 1986

On Richard Cobden’s death, Charles Francis Adams noted in his diary that Cobden “had fought his way to fame and honor by the single force of his character. He had nothing to give. No wealth, no honors, no preferment. He first taught the multitude by precept and example that the right of government was not really to the few, but to the many.&rquo; Disraeli was no less acute when he remarked that Cobden was “the greatest political character that the pure middle class of this country has yet produced.”

In this biography, Nicholas Edsall demonstrates how Cobden dominated middle-class radicalism from its high-water mark in the turbulent 1840s to the quieter years immediately before the emergence of the Gladstonian Liberal party in the 1860s. Cobden headed the movement for the incorporation of his adopted city, Manchester; he was the leader of the most successful of Victorian mass agitations, the Anti-Corn Law League, and chief adviser to the movement for the repeal of newspaper taxes; he was a founder of the mid-nineteenth-century peace movement and a vocal opponent of the Crimean War; he was the chief English negotiator of the Anglo–French Commercial Treaty of 1860; and he was one of the earliest critics of the modern arms race.

This is the first full-length biography since the publication of the official life more than a century ago. Not only has a good deal of new material become available, but the passage of time has served to underscore Cobden’s significance both as a spokesman for the middle class in an era of acute class conflict and as a critic of the aims of great-power diplomacy at a time when his own country was the greatest of powers.


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Eric Midwinter
Haus Publishing, 2006
Biography of the first Prime Minister of the 20th Century during the height of the British Empire

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The Victorian World Picture
Newsome, David
Rutgers University Press, 1997

When did the Victorians come to regard themselves as "Victorians" and to use that term to describe the period in which they were living? David Newsome's monumental history takes a good, long look at the Victorian age and what distinguishes it so prominently in the history of both England and the world. The Victorian World Picture presents a vivid canvas of the Victorians as they saw themselves and as the rest of the world saw them.

The Victorian era was a time of unprecedented population growth and massive industrialization. Darwinian theory shook people's religious beliefs and foreign competition threatened industry and agriculture. The transformation of this nineteenth-century world was overhwelming, pervading the social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and political spheres. By the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851, the British were calling themselves Victorians and Prince Albert was able to proclaim, "We are living at a period of most wonderful transition." David Newsome weaves all these strands of Victorian life into a compelling evocation of the spirit of a fascinating time that laid the foundation for the modern age.


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