Lord Aberdeen and Conservative Foreign Policy, 1841-1846

Butcher, Samuel J. (2015) Lord Aberdeen and Conservative Foreign Policy, 1841-1846. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This study looks at Lord Aberdeen’s second tenure as Foreign Secretary, in Robert Peel’s government of 1841-46. The tenure is first contextualised by an analysis of Aberdeen’s ‘mental map’, in order to reconstruct the personal influences and reasoning behind Conservative foreign policy. The study then engages with Aberdeen’s dealings in Europe, where it provides an alternative interpretation of the Anglo-French entente. It considers Aberdeen and the Conservatives’ approach to Russia and the ‘Eastern Question’ which, along with Chapter Two, treads historiographical terra incognita. Britain’s engagement with America is then analysed; the discord of preceding years, various festering diplomatic sores, and America’s growing influence had combined to throw relations into sharp focus.
This study re-examines archives that have, for the most part, been long neglected or examined in the light of historiographical debates long superseded by new developments. Where the present methodology varies from previous works is that different questions are being asked of the material in accordance with the new contexts in which Aberdeen and Conservative foreign policy are considered: these relate to conclusions drawn from the analysis of Aberdeen’s ‘mental map’ and to the wider objectives of the Conservative government.
This approach facilitates a study in which Aberdeen’s foreign policy is analysed on its own terms. The historiography has hitherto largely used Palmerstonian and/or liberal contexts as the parameters of debate about the foreign policy of the Peel administration, which only served to distort conclusions. This study’s approach leads it to consider a rational and competent Foreign Secretary whose policy dovetailed with the objectives of the Conservative government and was crucial in helping Peel to deliver them. A consistent set of principles ran through foreign policy dealings – albeit with a flexibility reserved for the means by which they were applied – not least a focus on the maintenance and extension of mercantile intercourse as a means by which to consolidate and protect British power. These observations help lead the study to consider a reinterpretation of Aberdeen and the Peel government, and to ask new questions about mid nineteenth-century Conservatism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Users 2593 not found.
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2015 09:51
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2015 09:51
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/52491


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