Burke, Edmund (1729-1797) British Statesman and Political Thinker: Edmund Burke was a leading British philosopher and statesman who eventually supported the patriots in their bid for independence. Burke initially advocated parliamentary supremacy over the colonies, but only on terms acceptable to the colonies. Two of his speeches to Parliament later became famous: one on American taxation (1774) and one on conciliation (1775). He suggested a relationship between Britain and her American colonies in which parliamentary sovereignty would be asserted only with the consent of the colonies, and only for purposes which the colonies recognized as being of common interest. After the American victory at Saratoga, however, Burke asserted that the American colonies could not be retained. Burke also wrote books of political and aesthetic philosophy, and was known as an eloquent orator.