Origin and History of Christian Socialism, 1848-54 - Vol. 3

Origin and History of Christian Socialism, 1848-54 - Vol. 3

Origin and History of Christian Socialism, 1848-54 - Vol. 3

Origin and History of Christian Socialism, 1848-54 - Vol. 3


The noble endeavours of the Christian Socialists in early Victorian England have deservedly attracted attention. Their story has been repeatedly told in the conviction that they represented an inspiring example to succeeding generations, feeling like them the challenge put by social problems to the Church.

But it was not until C. E. Raven in 1920 published his Christian Socialism 1848-54 that the theme was made the subject of an elaborate examination. Raven's sympathetic study immediately eclipsed all previous accounts of Christian Socialism. Not undeservedly it has ever since been considered the outstanding work on the history of the movement. However, a careful perusal reveals that even this important book has its shortcomings. This calls for a renewed study of Christian Socialism and its men.

A full, detailed study of Christian Socialism 1848-54 will never be written. J. M. Ludlow, one of the leading Christian Socialists, took care that all the correspondence and papers connected with the work of Christian Socialism were, after its dissolution, kept in the Working Men's College. He later recounted in an unpublished autobiography that, to his great dismay, a secretary at the College had, without knowing what he did, disposed of all the archives of Christian Socialism as waste paper.

Nevertheless, enough is left us of both published and unpublished material to add much to Raven's account of Christian Socialism. Furthermore, a critical analysis of all material now available reveals that many aspects of the history of Christian Socialism must be viewed in a new light, enabling us to see it in its true historical context. The present study represents the outcome of such a fresh examination into its origin and history.

In offering this study to the public my thanks are due to Københavns Universitets Jubilæumsfond af 1929, Statens Almindelige Videnskabsfond, and Rask-Ørsted Fondet, grants from which have made possible my visits to English libraries and archives, as well as the translation and publication of the results of my research.

Unfortunately it is impossible to mention by name all the people whom I have met in England and who have unsparingly helped me and made my visits there enjoyable and unforgettable. However, I should especially like to thank my friend, Geoffrey Best, Ph. D., former Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, now Lecturer in History at the University of Edinburgh, for his encouraging and generous help in going through my manuscript and pruning it of its worst blunders.

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