Biography of Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was Rector of the University from 1783 to 1785.
Born in Dublin, Burke studied at Trinity College there and became a leading political philosopher and Whig politician. He was a trenchant critic of Britain's war with its American colonies 1776-1783, an advocate of economic reform and as an opponent of slavery and anti-Catholic discrimination. He was the driving force behind the impeachment of the former Governor-General of British India, Warren Hastings in the 1780s.
Burke lost the rectorial election of 1781 to Henry Dundas, but was elected in 1783 and in 1784. He spent ten days in Glasgow in 1784 at the time of his first installation, when he spent much of his time in the company of Adam Smith. His installation address was not a success, as he became overcome by the occasion and sat down abruptly after just five minutes.
In 1784 his re-election was contested, as some students objected to what they believed was his role in suspendeding Professor John Anderson from his duties. Burke defeated his opponent, the MP George Dempster, and then had to defend himself (successfully) against an action for damages launched by Anderson against him and the University authorities.