Bagehot, Walter
(1826–1877)
   British journalist, economist, political scientist, and editor of The Economist from 1860 to his death. Although Bagehot failed to win election to the British parliament three times, he was influential in mid-nineteenth-century England because of his writings and personal connections. Born into a Unitarian banking family in Langport, Somerset, he initially attended Bristol College and in 1842, at the age of 16, he began his degree studies at University College London. He studied and initially practiced law but soon moved into the family business of banking. He always wrote copiously, however, particularly for the National Review, and from 1860 edited his father-in-law James Wilson’s paper, The Economist.
   Bagehot is best known for The English Constitution, in which he analyzed the major institutions of British government. He split the functions of government into “digni- fied” and “efficient” parts. The dignified institutions, the monarchy and the House of Lords, were important because they distracted the attention of the uneducated masses, about whom Bagehot was uniformly scathing, and hence bolstered the legitimacy of the system. The efficient institutions, primarily the House of Commons, were important because they appointed the cabinet, which in fact wielded most real power, a fact obscured by the noticeable dignified aspects of the constitution. Written at a time when electoral reform was being hotly debated, Bagehot disapproved of democracy, as he felt it would give the upper hand to the uneducated masses. Bagehot had many interests. Another significant work, Physics and Politics, was translated into seven languages and had already reached its fifth French edition by 1885. Subtitled “Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of ‘Natural Selection’ and ‘Inheritance’ to Political Society,” it was a broad attempt to apply Darwinian ideas to politics. The book described the historical evolution of social groups into nations, and sought to explain why European nations alone were truly progressive. Bagehot argued that these nations had evolved primarily by succeeding in conflicts with other groups. For many political scientists and military strategists, ideas such as these justified overseas expansion during the later nineteenth century. Thus, in common with other nineteenth-century British thinkers, Bagehot’s writings helped to bolster the notion idea of European superiority and of English exceptionalism.
   FURTHER READING:
    St John-Stevas, N., ed. The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot. 15 vols. London: The Economist, 1986.
   PAUL LAWRENCE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bagehot, Walter — born Feb. 3, 1826, Langport, Somerset, Eng. died March 24, 1877, Langport English economist, political analyst, and journalist. While working in his uncle s bank, Bagehot wrote literary essays and economic articles that led to his involvement… …   Universalium

  • Bagehot, Walter — (3 feb. 1826, Langport, Somerset, Inglaterra–24 mar. 1877, Langport). Economista, analista político y periodista inglés. Mientras trabajaba en el banco de un tío, Bagehot escribió ensayos literarios y artículos de economía, gracias a los que más… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bagehot,Walter — Bage·hot (băjʹət), Walter. 1826 1877. British economist, social scientist, and journalist who wrote The English Constitution (1867), an analysis of the comparative powers of the branches of British government. * * * …   Universalium

  • BAGEHOT, WALTER —    an English political economist, born in Somerset, a banker by profession, and an authority on banking and finance; a disciple of Ricardo; wrote, besides other publications, an important work, The English Constitution ; was editor of the… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Bagehot, Walter — (1826 1877)    Economist, s. of a banker, b. at Langport, Somerset, ed. at University Coll., London, and called to the Bar, but did not practise, and joined his f. in business. He wrote for various periodicals, and from 1860 was editor of The… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Walter Bagehot — (* 3. Februar 1826 in Langport, Somerset; † 23. oder 24. März 1877 ebenda) war ein britischer Ökonom, Verfassungstheoretiker sowie Herausgeber der Wochenzeitung „The Economist“. Bagehots Analysen und Schriften haben viel zum politischen System… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bagehot — Walter Bagehot (* 23. Februar 1826 in Langport, Somerset; † 23. oder 24. März 1877 ebenda) war ein britischer Ökonom, Verfassungstheoretiker sowie Herausgeber der Wochenzeitung „The Economist“. Bagehots Analysen und Schriften haben viel zum… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Walter Bagehot — (3 de febrero de 1826, Langport, Somerset 24 de marzo de 1877, Langport) fue un periodista, politólogo y economista inglés. Mientras trabajaba en el banco de su tío, escribió varios ensayos literarios y artículo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Walter Bagehot — [Walter Bagehot] (1826–77) an English ↑economist and journalist, best remembered for his book The English Constitution (1867). There is no method by which men can be both free and equal. Walter Bagehot …   Useful english dictionary

  • Walter — Walter, Bruno Walter, John * * * (as used in expressions) Adams, Walter S(ydney) Alvarez, Luis W(alter) Bagehot, Walter Walter Lanier Barber Beaton, Sir Cecil (Walter Hardy) Benjamin, Walter Brattain, Walter H(ouser) Richard Walter Jenkins, Jr.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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