Type of Document Dissertation Author Laffer, Stephanie D URN etd-04012010-133623 Title "Gordon's Ghosts: British Major-General Charles George Gordon and His Legacies, 1885-1960" Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department History, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Charles Upchurch Committee Chair Jonathan Grant Committee Member Max Paul Friedman Committee Member Peter Garretson Committee Member Barry Faulk University Representative Keywords
Date of Defense 2010-02-05 Availability unrestricted AbstractďGordonís Ghosts: British Major-General Charles George Gordon and His Legacies, 1885-1960,Ē examines the various ways that Gordon and his memory have been used in the British Empire following his death in Sudan in 1885. After his death, Gordon became a symbol of Britainís imperial project, with his name and legacy featured in debates concerning multiple aspects of the British Empire, including areas where his connection was tangential at best. My study spans a period of about seventy-five years, beginning with the height of British imperialism and concluding with decolonization. Over the course of these decades, Britainís imperial commitments stretched all over the globe, as did the projections of Gordonís legacy.
In British domestic politics, Gordonís legacy was often synonymous with the failures of Liberal Imperialism and its strongest advocate, Prime Minister William Gladstone. As long as the Liberal Party remained committed to the ideas of Gladstone, Gordonís memory was employed both explicitly and implicitly by the Conservative Party as a way of reminding the British voting public of its opponentís shortcomings. For the Conservatives, Gordon became a political tool; he needed to be commemorated to serve as a reminder of the consequences for not following a strong imperial policy, and my work traces these politics of commemoration.
Gordonís legacy was present in other areas of the British Empire than Britain and Sudan. My dissertation also traces how Gordonís memory was used in these other regions. The first area where Gordonís legacy was employed was not in Africa, where it may have been expected, or even in China, where he earned his nickname, ďChinese Gordon,Ē but instead in Ireland, where his name was regularly invoked in the arguments against approving Irish Home Rule in 1886. Following the successful defeat of this proposed policy, the Conservative Party continued to invoke Gordonís name throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most notably in response to other imperial projects that would, in its opinion, weaken the British Empire. Fittingly, my work concludes with a discussion of how Gordon slowly becomes less important to British imperialism and how his representations changed as the needs of empire changed.
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