Elofson reveals that the Rockinghams, far more than previously recognized, were governed by a coherent set of constitutional ideals and argues that they saw "party" not primarily as a means to office but as a vehicle for public-spirited men to "secure the predominance of right and uniform principles" in the operation of the state. He examines the ideological writings of Edmund Burke, the Party's noted and prolific publicist, placing them in their political context and providing a new analysis of Burke's renowned pamphlet Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770). Throughout, Elofson illustrates the ways in which the Rockinghams altered and redefined the Whig Party and its principles as they took the first halting steps toward a program of constitutional amendment, establishing their place not only in Whig but in British constitutional development.
The Rockingham Whigs in opposition, 1766-1768; the movement for a united administration, 1768-1769; the petitioning and union movements during the parliamentary recess of 1769; the union movement in the parliamentary session of 1770; the growth of disunity in opposition, May 1770 to February 1771; the elimination of the union movement in the spring and summer of 1771; the influence of the Crown and religion, 1771-1772; the Rockinghams and the influence of the Crown, 1772-1773; conclusion - the Rockingham Whigs in 1773. Appendix: the Rockinghams in both Houses of Parliament, 1768-1773.