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Before either political liberalism or nationalism could become institutionalized, the Continent passed through a period of conservative reaction. Taking their cue from Edmund Burke, who "as early as 1790 strove to discredit France's great experiment by associating it with the excesses of reason and revolution, many people blamed liberalism for the quarter century of war, and chaos that followed. The "Reign Terror" in France, under the sway of Madame Guillotine, gave a connotation of horror to the slogan of "liberty, equality, and fraternity," Conservativeminded folk tended to regard the abstract ideas of freedom, brotherhood, and a society without class distinctions as mere will-o'-the=wisps leading inevitably to anarchy. In the interests of orderly government, the sacred rights of property, and the very existence of Western Civilization itself, they therefore set their faces resolutely against any doctrine which carried the liberal taint. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XIII: Political Liberalism and Nationalism, 1815-1871. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.