Sir John Seeley and the Uses of History
Sir John Seeley, first Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge an historian of the British empire, is best known for his remark that the empire was acquired in a fit of absent-mindedness. His contemporaries considered that Seeley's widely read book The Expansion of England was influential in changing popular attitudes to empire from indifference to patriotic attachment. Historians' interest in Seeley has been similarly restricted to his importance as the first academic historian to consider the imperial dimension of British political history and his views on Britain's imperial role. More recently they have begun to look at wider aspects of his work. Seeley mixed in non-conformist, Christian Socialist and Positivist circles in London. His Ecce homo viewed religion primarily as a moral force whose purpose was the welfare and progress of mankind.
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