American Philosophical Society Fellowship, July - December 2021
Dr Kyle Thompson is an Associate Professor of European history at Pittsburg State University. His research focuses on Scottish political history. He is particularly interested in political identity and the interplay between candidates and their constituents as they navigated politics. For example, his article in the Innes Review “Defining Liberalism: The First Home Rule Crisis in the Scottish Capital,” discusses the struggle of liberalism in Edinburgh that was brought about by the Irish question and the role played by political identity.
Project Title: Capital Importance: Gladstone’s relationship with Edinburgh
Thompson's current research project looks at William Gladstone’s relationship with Edinburgh, which was one of convenience when he first arrived. Gladstone saw Edinburgh as an ideal place to mount a northern stand for his ‘Midlothian campaign’, using the city to deliver many of his speeches during the 1880 election. This prominent location enabled his speeches to be quickly transmitted by the press and also benefitted the burgh as its importance grew. Both candidates and constituents in Edinburgh looked to Gladstone for guidance on questions and for mediation between rival candidates. However, after the Liberal party spilt over the Irish question, Edinburgh became more important than just a convenient location to get press coverage and Gladstone’s approach changed. Gladstone needed to show constituents throughout the country that he still represented the official Liberal party and Edinburgh, as the capital of liberal Scotland, was an essential holding for either side of the Liberal split. Gladstone not only held speeches in Edinburgh during the 1886 election, but he also personally interjected in elections within the burgh. This project will highlight Edinburgh’s importance and will discuss the role of political identity and liberal politics in the late-nineteenth century.