The correspondence of J.R. Thorbecke 1830-1872

Edited by G.J. Hooykaas and F.J.P. Santegoets; with assistance from M. Kooijmans, E. Swart and a taskforce led by J.C. Boogman

This edition focuses on letters written by and to J.R. Thorbecke (1798-1872) that are now preserved in several archives, libraries and private collections. However, it was never the intention to include every single letter. A broad definition of the selection criteria that was used for the publication can be found in the preface of Volume III. In hindsight, it would appear that in many respects a true exchange of letters as such did not take place. This realisation, coupled with the desire to keep the publication manageable, led to a change of plan. From volume IV onwards, only letters written by Thorbecke himself were included. In order to clarify these texts further and without wishing to detract too much from the book’s title, relevant passages have been taken from letters written to Thorbecke and incorporated in the footnotes.

Aside from letters, all the volumes contain appendixes which include, among others, countless random notes and newspaper articles written by Thorbecke.

This publication opens up new avenues for research into the thought processes and modus operandi of a man who for many years played a pivotal role in Dutch politics. During his time spent in the Dutch Lower House, Thorbecke took the initiative in 1844 to radically change the constitution. In 1848 he was chairman of the constitutional committee appointed by King William II. Thorbecke, more than anyone else in the 19th century, shaped the Dutch nation state.

This book is a sequel to a three-volume edition in the series Werken van het Historisch Genootschap [Publications of the Historical Society] that drew on the Thorbecke archive in the National Archive in The Hague: J.Brandt-Van der Veen ed., Het Thorbecke-archief 1798-1872 (3 vol.; Utrecht-Groningen-Utrecht 1955-1967).

The edition containing letters written by Thorbecke when he was minister includes drafts that were either written in Thorbecke’s own hand or corrected by him. The official drafts of the letters written by J.R. Thorbecke when he held office as Minister of Home Affairs can be accessed online as separate files belonging to volume 5 and volume 7 of the publication.

A selection of letters entitled Thorbecke. A Life in Letters has been published in a complementary edition. Thorbecke’s own personal views about people and situations lie at the heart of this anthology and are reflected in: his moods, friendships, correspondence in which he conveys his congratulations and commiserations, and his appreciation of art and nature.