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Politics and the NationBritain in the Mid-Eighteenth Century$
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Robert Harris

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246939

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199246939.001.0001

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Morals and the Nation

Morals and the Nation

(p.278) CHAPTER SEVEN Morals and the Nation
Politics and the Nation

Bob Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter reconstructs the mid-century campaign for the reformation of manners in Britain. The principal focus is on England, but similar developments in Scotland are also examined briefly. The drive to reform morals and manners was closely shaped by perceptions of the commercial and military threat from France. A crucial strand was the disciplining of the lower orders. Like so much else in the politics of national revival, it was backward looking. It sought to restore the respect for hierarchy, the social disciplines, and ‘industry’ amongst the lower orders, which gave society its health and stability and which also underpinned economic and commercial prosperity. For others, however, it was primarily a religious problem and the solution lay in religion or restoring the influence of the Anglican church and the Kirk in Scotland. Clergymen and bishops also argued that national security and the nation's future depended on restoring a proper relationship to God and God's laws. Britain's destiny was conceptualised in the mid-century in religious as well as secular terms.

Keywords:   Britain, morals, reformation, manners, moral reform, England, France, national security, religion, politics

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