Haggard, Robert F. 1968-

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Haggard, Robert F. 1968-


Born in 1968. Education: University of Virginia, Ph.D.


Office—Thomas Jefferson Foundation, P.O. Box 316, Charlottesville, VA 22902. E-mail—[email protected]


University of Virginia, Charlottesville, associate professor of history, resigned 2001; Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, associate editor of Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series at Monticello.


The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism: The Politics of Social Reform in Britain, 1870-1900, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2001.

Contributor to professional journals, including the American Historical Review, Historian, and Essays in History.


In The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism: The Politics of Social Reform in Britain, 1870-1900, historian Robert F. Haggard traces the origins of the modern welfare state. Most historians believe that the concept of state support of those who, through forces beyond their control, were unable to support themselves began in the late nineteenth century and was already fully developed by 1900. They declare that classic liberalism, the theory that underlay much of Great Britain's economic growth in the late 1800s, weakened in the last decades of that century and was slowly replaced by some of the ideals of socialism.

Liberalism emphasized the right of the individual to enjoy the benefit of his property without interference from the government. The flip side of this, however, was that the government had no responsibility to support the individual if he lost that property. True economic freedom, in other words, included the freedom to fail. The period after 1870, historians say, was marked by an expansion of imperialism and an increasingly volatile global economy, and these elements slowly modified the theory of liberalism to include the idea that the state owed support to the deserving poor, the victims of these economic forces. The end result, declared Stephanie Barczewski in the Historian, was that victims of poverty were "no longer blamed for bringing their problems upon themselves through their personal and moral failings. Instead, poverty was now seen as being caused by impersonal economic forces and a deprived social environment. It was, therefore, the duty of the state to intervene in order to alleviate the suffering of the working classes." Without this change, historians say, it is impossible to understand how elements of socialism were incorporated into the British state in the years following World War I.

Haggard argues that, on the contrary, the modern welfare state was not fully conceived until the late 1940s. "He has no difficulty in showing that [it] was based on different principles [than the liberal society of the nineteenth century]," explained E.P. Hennock in Albion, "and in arguing that it took two world wars and the worst economic depression of the industrial era to bring it into existence."



Albion, summer, 2002, E.P. Hennock, review of The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism: The Politics of Social Reform in Britain, 1870-1900, p. 345.

Historian, spring, 2003, Stephanie Barczewski, review of The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism, p. 758.