Dissenting Patriots: Anna Barbauld, John Aikin, and the Discourse of Eighteenth-Century Republicanism in Rational Dissent

History of European Ideas 38 (4):527-549 (2012)

Summary Sister and brother Anna Letitia Barbauld (née Aikin; 1743?1825) and John Aikin (1747?1822) are two famous Rational Dissenting writers who strategically appropriated republican discourse to advance the Dissenting cause. Both make the case that, far from being subversive, Rational Dissent actually granted its adherents the independence that, from a republican perspective, was considered essential to true patriotism. In a fresh formulation of republican discourse, they present the strength of the Rational Dissenting commitment to ?free inquiry? as security for continuing independence, enabling liberal Dissenters to act as patriotic guardians of British virtue and liberty against the dangerous effects of luxury, even as they continued to contribute towards the development of the British commercial economy and to promote the benefits of commerce, traditionally regarded with hostility by classical republicans. Effectively exploiting the classical republican belief in the central role of education, Barbauld and Aikin particularly sought to publicize the role that the Dissenting academies had played in producing patriots by making ?free inquiry? the basis of their pedagogical philosophy and practice
Keywords anna barbauld  dissenting academies  john aikin  patriotism  rational dissent  republicanism
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2012.679074
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