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John C. Calhoun

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The Southern Constitutional Tradition

Brion McClanahan discusses the Southern constitutional tradition, from the 2022 Abbeville Institute Summer School at Seabrook Island, SC, July 5-8, 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TCufOUlq_4 Note: The views expressed on abbevilleinstitute.org are not necessarily those of the Abbeville Institute.
Abbeville Institute
September 20, 2022
Blog

Calhoun and the 21st Century

In 1957, Senator John F. Kennedy issued a report on the five most important Senators in United States history. He included John C. Calhoun, and while he understood the historical controversy it might create, Kennedy insisted that Calhoun's "masterful" defense "of the rights of a political minority against the dangers of an unchecked majority" and "his profoundly penetrating and original…
Brion McClanahan
September 8, 2022
Blog

“His Richest Legacy to Posterity”

From Gustavus Pinckney, Life of John C. Calhoun. The attentive reader will not have forgotten that in the letter of Mr. Calhoun in reference to his acceptance of the Secretaryship of State he made mention of a project which he had in mind for leisure hours in the home routine to which at that time he looked forward. The home…
Abbeville Institute
August 26, 2022
BlogClyde Wilson Library

My Life as a Southern Historian–Becoming Nobody

As we progress into old age, our perspectives tend to change. Things that occupied most of our active life--accomplishments and “the bubble reputation” are seen to be  less important than family and friends. I suspect that even accumulating money loses some of its flavor as the years move on, although I don’t really know about that. This reflection is provoked…
Clyde Wilson
July 29, 2022
Blog

The Nullification Crisis

Going back to Jefferson, you can say that Jefferson’s vision of radical Federalism was of a libertarian Federalism, based on the rights of local self-government circumscribing and limiting their agent, the Federal government, whose referent is not a single people, but the peoples of the various States. It’s strange that in the writings from the Founding period, the plural of…
Marco Bassani
June 1, 2022
Blog

Robert E. Lee and His Time

Delivered at the 2013 Abbeville Institute Summer School. What I want to do is thoroughly cover Lee in his time and in ours, and try to understand that transformation. There's more there than meets the eye, and it has to do with our understanding of Lee. If we can understand the transformation as carefully as I hope to take us…
William Wilson
March 8, 2022
Blog

Remembering John C. Calhoun

Though John C. Calhoun was a distinguished American statesman and thinker, he is little appreciated in his own country. Calhoun rose to prominence on the eve of the War of 1812 as a “war hawk” in the House of Representatives and was the Hercules who labored untiringly in the war effort. While still a congressman, he was the chief architect…
John Devanny
October 26, 2021
Blog

Angers Away

Over half a century before the Imperial German Navy launched its new and deadly method of undersea warfare against the Allied navies and merchant shipping in World War One, the Confederate Army was making history’s first successful submarine attack on an enemy warship.  On the night of February 17, 1864, First Lieutenant George E. Dixon, a former steamboat engineer before…
John Marquardt
May 13, 2021
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Conservative as “Defender of Liberty”

In 1960, the great Southern political philosopher Richard Weaver penned an essay titled “Conservatism and Libertarianism: The Common Ground.” Most people considered Weaver to be a “conservative,” and he accepted the term, but he also thought American conservatives and libertarians had much in common and should work together for a common goal: liberty. The current internal warfare in both conservative…
Brion McClanahan
May 7, 2021
Blog

Remembering John C. Calhoun

The spring of 1850 is an ominous perpetrator. Notwithstanding the crisis our country faced during those trying years leading to the so-called compromise of 1850, March 31st marks the death of one of our most favorable and forbearing men in our history, John C. Calhoun. Calhoun had always been a man of great vigor and zeal, uncompromising in his approach…
Brad Pond
April 16, 2021
Blog

John C. Calhoun: American

No American is more vilified than John C. Calhoun. A recent biography has labeled him the American "heretic," and it has become fashionable to blame every political problem in American on this long deceased statesman. Is this true or fair? Calhoun was well respected during his lifetime and served in almost every important position in the United States government. He…
Brion McClanahan
March 30, 2021
Blog

Honoring Calhoun

Editor's Note: This speech was delivered before the Senate on March 12, 1910, at the dedication of John C. Calhoun's statue in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol. Address of Mr. (Henry Cabot) Lodge, of Massachusetts, United States Senate, 1910 Mr. PRESIDENT: When the senior Senator from South Carolina (Mr. Tillman), whose illness we all deplore, did me the…
Henry Cabot Lodge
March 18, 2021
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The Termite Infestation of American History

As part of its campaign to pander to the important and urgent needs of African-Americans with extremely divisive yet ultimately performative identity politics, the Biden-Harris administration has announced that it will resume Barack Obama’s decision in 2015 to remove Andrew Jackson from the twenty-dollar bill and replace him with Harriet Tubman. Jonathan Waldman’s celebratory and condescending column in The Washington…
James Rutledge Roesch
March 12, 2021
Blog

A Fig for the Constitution

“A fig for the Constitution” if it does not protect our most basic rights was John Randolph’s nineteenth century estimation of the value of the Constitution. In 2021 his words of warning are even more applicable. What power does the Constitution have to protect the First Amendment’s guarantee to peacefully assemble and the free exercise of religion when the government…
James Ronald Kennedy
February 11, 2021
Blog

Defining Southern Conservatism

Southern conservatism is considered an enigma when juxtaposed against the bipartisan political configuration having been imposed upon us since the beginning of the American experiment. The candor of its echoed sentiment as a past relic meets the ears of many contemporary Americans with halted sails as its message could never penetrate their intellect. When the essence of its subject is…
Brad Pond
February 4, 2021
Blog

The Calhoun Monument Deserved Legal and Historical Protection

As some business owners and residents on King Street described it, “Charleston was raped” on the night of May 30, 2020, as mobs looted and burned the Holy City, turning so-called “peaceful protests” violent. Following numerous calls to remove the John C. Calhoun Monument and repeal the South Carolina Heritage Act, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg took a resolution to the…
Stewart O. Jones
October 30, 2020
Blog

Leave Calhoun Alone

Perhaps no American thinker has suffered more in recent days than John C. Calhoun, whose work and personage are often dismissed by his critics for a single phrase attributed to him, diminishing the careful and complicated analysis he deserves. Critics of Calhoun simplistically suggest his statecraft and thought, as well as his critique of America, serve a single purpose: the…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
July 6, 2020
Blog

Rewriting the History of “Calhoun University.”

On June 13, 2020, Clemson University president Jim Clements proclaimed, “this was an important day for Clemson-a historic day for Clemson.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It was but another victory for historical revisionists and “presentism.”    On the day before, University Trustees voted 13-0 to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from the University’s Honors College because he…
Andrew P. Calhoun
June 18, 2020
Blog

Those Cowardly Tigers

In a gosh attempt at virtue signaling, the Clemson University Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to remove John C. Calhoun's name from the school’s Honors College. This decision came after former Tiger football stars Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins joined a petition campaign which declared: “To maintain the name is to convey Clemson University's continued indifference toward a history…
William J. Watkins
June 15, 2020
Review Posts

No Worse Enemy. No Better Friend

A review of In Defense of Andrew Jackson (Regnery History, 2018) by Bradley J. Birzer I was recently in Nashville, Tennessee, with family, and took the opportunity to visit Andrew Jackson’s home-turned-museum, “The Hermitage.” I have to admit, it was amusing for me to hear the historians whom were interviewed by the museum become outright “historicists” (as the Straussians/Jaffaites would…
James Rutledge Roesch
April 21, 2020
Blog

Calhoun and Constitutionalism

Union and liberty are not two terms most people associate with John C. Calhoun, a figure often linked exclusively with secession and slavery. But a reading of Liberty Fund’s 1992 Union and Liberty, a single-volume collection of Calhoun’s writings and speeches edited by the late Ross M. Lence, reveals a mind most intently focused on investigating and assessing the origins…
John Grove
April 20, 2020
Blog

Federalists Still Attack Calhoun

John C. Calhoun was the last eloquent political philosopher to stand against the ideology and intentions of the Federalists. He was the last to stand firmly in the halls of the Senate and articulate exactly what it would mean to allow power to become centralized under an unconstrained federal government. He died in 1850.  His words are ignored and personage…
Barry Clark
March 18, 2020
Blog

A Southerner’s Movie Guide, Part III

5. Spielberg’s Amistad (1997) If Amistad is not yet a household word like ET or Jurassic Park, it soon will be with the power of Steven Spielberg behind it.  (When I started this review awhile back, that was my first sentence, but I may have been wrong.  Late reports indicate the box office is lagging.)  Amistad is really two movies.…
Clyde Wilson
December 19, 2019
Blog

False Idols? Looking at America’s Founders with a Clear Eye

Increasingly, America’s past is becoming a lightning rod for contemporary ideological struggles. Colleges, highways and Democratic Party fundraising dinners are being renamed, monuments destroyed or desecrated, and a general suspicion seems to be growing of the value of anything emanating from America’s first century, soiled as it is with the stains of racism and slavery. This trend is a cause…
John Grove
September 16, 2019
Review Posts

Real Conservatism

A review of The Southern Tradition: The Achievements and Limitations of Southern Conservatism (Harvard, 1994) by Eugene Genovese The notion of a Southern polit­ical tradition can be understood as conservative, complete, and consistent with its roots. Eugene Genovese’s The Southern Tradition poignantly articulates these qualities from the perspec­tive of a Marxist gone conserva­tive—a Southern conservative, indeed. Elucidating Genovese’s understanding of…
Won Kim
September 3, 2019
Review Posts

Jeffersonians Against Imperialism

J. William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power, 1966 and The Price of Empire, 1967 Robert C. Byrd, Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency, 2004 Known and celebrated as a “liberal” during the Vietnam War era, Fulbright was actually a quite independent-minded public figure.  In some respects he represented a remnant of the Southern Democratic Jeffersonian tradition, and he…
Clyde Wilson
July 30, 2019
Blog

Show Me Where the Statue Hurt You

I attended a protest to tear down the John C. Calhoun monument in Charleston on May 16, 2019. This event was being hosted by “The Independent Media Institute,” and consisted of “artists” explaining how the monument is a symbol of white supremacy to them. Almost two years ago, in August of 2017, I attended a similar protest put on by…
Michael Martin
May 23, 2019
Blog

John C. Calhoun: American

Of all the American vice-presidents, none is more vilified than John C. Calhoun. Calhoun is known as the “defender of slavery,” the “cast iron man,” the “man who started the civil war.” His monument in Charleston has been vandalized, his name removed from Calhoun College at Yale, his Alma Mater, and now his home, Clemson University, is debating whether to…
Brion McClanahan
April 18, 2019
Review Posts

When Real Historians Understood Calhoun

A review of Correspondence of John C. Calhoun, Vol II. (Washington, 1900) edited by J. Franklin Jameson. It is a fitting crown to Professor Jameson’s efforts in promoting the estab­lishment and successful career of the manuscripts commission and a most substantial proof of the material services rendered to the advancement of the study of history in the United States by…
Edward G. Bourne
March 19, 2019
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Lord Acton: Confederate Sympathizer

“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Among Catholic students of political thought, few figures are more liable to provoke vigorous debate than does that famous dictum’s author, Cambridge history lecturer John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, a.k.a., the First Lord Acton, Catholic godfather of classical liberalism. Where Acton’s critics identify classical liberalism as a theory incompatible with the Catholic faith,…
Jerry Salyer
February 20, 2019
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John C. Calhoun’s Foreign Policy: “A Wise and Masterly Inactivity”

The dominant powers in American discourse today have succeeded in confining the South to a dark little corner of history labeled “Slavery and Treason.” This is already governing the public sphere of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Such an approach not only libels the South, it is a fatal distortion of American history in general, and, I dare say, even of…
Clyde Wilson
January 23, 2019
Blog

Social Justice and Clemson University

In November 2018 Will Hiott, Director and Curator of Historic Properties at Clemson University, included a thinly disguised political paper from Clemson University History Professor Rhondda Robinson Thomas as part a packet distributed to Historic Properties Advisory Committee members. The essay has no relevance to ongoing volunteer efforts toward the Preservation of Historic campus buildings and is nothing more than…
Andrew P. Calhoun
December 10, 2018
Blog

Charleston’s Faulty “Contextualization”

I grew up in Summerville, South Carolina, just a few miles from historic Charleston. This quiet little town is separated from the Holy City by some plantations, swamps, and marsh but shares the same fascination with local history. Folklore states that Summerville is the birthplace of sweet tea, the source being a newspaper article from 1890 that lists the menu…
Michael Martin
November 7, 2018
Blog

Calhoun, Not Webster, Was Right

Writing about the “Great Triumvirate” of Webster, Clay, and Calhoun during the third Nullification controversy in America of 1828-1832, and in particular about the Webster-Hayne debate of 1830, the late Prof. Merrill D. Peterson made this telling point:  “In the course of answering Hayne point by point, Webster unfolded a  conception of the Union and the Constitution that stood in stark…
W. Kirk Wood
September 26, 2018
Blog

Rhetoric, Reality, and the Late Unpleasantness

The 1850s is viewed by most scholars as the crucial decade of the sectional crisis that resulted in the War Between the States. The Great Triumvirate of John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster had passed from the scene.  These giants were replaced by lesser lights, and “the war came” as Mr. Lincoln claimed.  As historical explanations go, there…
John Devanny
September 24, 2018
Blog

Calhoun and Modern Economics

Much of John C. Calhoun’s criticism stems from his 1837 speech in the Senate where he stated slavery was “a positive good.” This quote is often paraded as evidence of Southern racism and is used in attempts diminish Calhoun’s legacy. Quite possibly no other politician, aside from Lincoln, is so often misrepresented and misunderstood. The reason is that nowadays, we…
Michael Martin
September 6, 2018
Review Posts

Foundering Inventions

A review of Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution by Harry Jafffa, (Regnery, 1994). When Professor Harry Jaffa, in his new book Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution: A Disputed Question, refers to Abraham Lincoln as the “greatest interpreter of the Founding Fathers,” one must wonder whose Founding Fathers he has in mind. From the outset…
William J. Watkins
December 19, 2017
Blog

Calhoun’s Meaning that “Slavery is a Positive Good”?

John C. Calhoun–valedictorian of his class at Yale, Vice President, Secretary of War, and Senator–was one of the greatest statesmen America has produced. Margaret Coit wrote a favorable biography of him in 1950 that won a Pulitzer Prize. In 1959, a Senate committee, headed by John Kennedy, ranked him among the five greatest senators in American history. Calhoun wrote one…
Donald Livingston
November 17, 2017
Blog

The Fighting Gamecock: Thomas Sumter

Thomas Sumter in his encounters with the Indian na­tions enters the pages of recorded history. He had prob­ably been present at the fall of Fort Duquesne and in the campaign across the Ohio River and had learned some­thing of the red man during this early service. In any case, he was chosen to accompany Lieutenant Henry Timberlake to treat with…
M.E. Bradford
November 1, 2017
Blog

Understanding the War on Monuments

Agitation, Abstraction, Disruption, Distraction… These words are the most primal reasons that southern, and arguably mainstream American, history is under attack throughout the country. On August 16, 2017, I attended a protest to remove the John C. Calhoun monument in Charleston, South Carolina. While I was at this protest, I gained a lot of insight on how these “protestors” think…
Michael Martin
September 8, 2017
Blog

Calhoun the Marxist?

Neo-conservatives can’t seem to make up their mind about the Confederacy. They all agree that the Confederacy represented everything evil about early America (which places them squarely in league with their intellectual brothers on the Left) but why they hate it presents the real conundrum. It borders on schizophrenia. Neo-conservative historian Victor Davis Hanson, for example, often rails against the…
Brion McClanahan
August 10, 2017
Blog

Coit’s Calhoun

Want to learn about one of the greatest statesmen that the United States has ever produced?  Then get hold of John C. Calhoun: American Portrait by Margaret Coit. When this beautifully-written book received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1951, it was generally agreed that Coit had redeemed Calhoun as a major and admirable, even heroic, figure in American history.  Even…
Clyde Wilson
March 17, 2017
Review Posts

A Deep Devotion to the Constitution

According to the modern historical establishment, John C. Calhoun is the ultimate American villain. These esteemed historians think lofty assessments from previous decades failed to account for his glaring inconsistencies in regard to federal power, his advocacy for American imperialism, or his well-known defense of slavery and racism. Historians may have been critical of Calhoun's advancement of the "positive good"…
Brion McClanahan
March 14, 2017
Blog

Russell Kirk’s Southern Sensibilities: A Celebration

. .the South—alone among the civilized communities of the nine­teenth century—had hardihood sufficient for an appeal to arms against the iron new order which, a vague instinct whispered to Southerners, was inimical to the sort of humanity they knew." —Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind Certainly those south of the Mason-Dixon line expect little by way of understanding from non-natives, especially…
Alan Cornett
March 9, 2017
Review Posts

The American President: From Cincinnatus to Caesar

The great body of the nation has no real interest in party. — James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat, 1838 The American presidency offers many fascinating questions for historical exploration. And by historical exploration I do not mean the all-too-common form of pseudohistory that puts the presidential office at the center of our expe­rience as a people. That scenario in…
Clyde Wilson
February 23, 2017
Blog

Yale’s Folly

By H. Lee Cheek, Jr. and Sean Busick The effort to rename Calhoun College at Yale University has won the day.  After initially deciding not to rename Calhoun College last year, a special presidentially-appointed taskforce recommended the renaming, guided by set of new renaming criteria.  Unfortunately, Calhoun College is no more. Of course, colleges and universities have the option to…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
February 15, 2017
Blog

The Continuing Relevance of Calhoun’s Wisdom

I am always glad to talk about my favourite subject–-John C. Calhoun. I think it will become apparent that what he has to say has some relevance to our topic “Building Communities of Resistance”—and perhaps in surprising ways that have little to do with the familiar lessons of State rights and nullification. By the way, despite what you may hear…
Clyde Wilson
February 8, 2017
Blog

The Oregon Question

But I oppose war, not simply on the patriotic ground of a citizen looking to the freedom and prosperity of his own country, but on still broader grounds, as a friend of improvement, civilization and progress. Viewed in reference to them, at no period has it ever been so desirable to preserve the general peace which now blesses the world.…
John C. Calhoun
November 3, 2016
Review Posts

John C. Calhoun: Anti-Imperialist

The mission of the Abbeville Institute, to redeem what is worthwhile in the Southern tradition, is an embattled one. The dominant powers in American discourse today have succeeded in confining the South to a dark little corner of story labeled “Slavery and Treason.” This is already governing the public sphere of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Such an approach not only…
Clyde Wilson
September 22, 2016
Review Posts

The Tariff and Other Tales from Alabama

My friends, there is one issue before you, and to all sensible men but one issue, and but two sides to that issue. The slavery question is but one of the symbols of that issue; the commercial question is but one of the symbols of that issue; the Union question is but one of those symbols; the only issue before…
James Rutledge Roesch
August 1, 2016
Clyde Wilson Library

Calhoun’s Carolina

John C. Culhoon. Culhoon is the right pronunciation by the way. John C. Culhoon was an upcountryman. We upcountry people tend to suspect Charlestonians, like Dr. Fleming, of being somewhat haughty and dissipated. Calhoun studied law briefly in Charleston and found a bride here, and he stopped off when he couldn't avoid it on his way to and from Washington,…
Clyde Wilson
March 18, 2016
Blog

Renaming Calhoun College

The post was originally published at LewRockwell.com. I’ve recently received information that Yale University may be about to rename what is possibly the most picturesque of the twelve colleges that house its undergraduate population. Calhoun College, which flanks stately Elm Street in the now badly run-down city of New Haven, is for me a scene of youthful memory. As a…
Paul Gottfried
March 14, 2016
Review Posts

The Principle of Secession Historically Traced

This essay is taken from The South in the Building of the Nation Series, Vol. 4 The Political History. THE political theory on which the Southern states in 1860 and 1861 based their right to withdraw from the Union was not the sudden creation of any one man, or of any one group of men. Like other ideas that have…
George Petrie
February 11, 2016
Clyde Wilson Library

It’s True What They Say About Dixie

Throughout most of American history region has been a better predictor of political position than party. That aspect of our reality has been neglected and suppressed in recent times as the rest of the country has conspired or acquiesced in transforming the South into a replica of Ohio. Yet the notorious squeak vote on the ObamaCare bill shows that the…
Clyde Wilson
January 27, 2016
Podcast

Podcast Episode 7

The Week in Review at the Abbeville Institute, December 28, 2015-January 1, 2016. Topics: Southern literature, the year in review, John C. Calhoun, slavery, the Confederate Flag, Southern film, California. https://soundcloud.com/the-abbeville-institute/episode-7
Brion McClanahan
January 3, 2016
Blog

Andrew Jackson: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

‘If only I can restore to our institutions their primitive simplicity and purity, can only succeed in banishing those extraneous corrupting influences which tend to fasten monopoly and aristocracy on the Constitution and to make the government an engine of oppression to the people instead of the agent of their will, I may then look back on the honors conferred…
James Rutledge Roesch
November 3, 2015
Blog

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XX

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.--Jefferson When did the South ever lay its hand on the North?--Calhoun . . . it remains true that the bulk of modern monopoly or quasi monopoly is not the result of always irresistible economic forces, but simply the…
Clyde Wilson
October 28, 2015
Blog

Calhoun and Yale

I can still recall one of my college economics professor's witticisms. When a student mentioned that the current year's test had the same questions as last year's, the professor replied: "Yes, but the answers have changed." My professor illustrated a valid point: theories of economic causation, like other theories, often change. A culture's political and social attitudes also change. But…
Gail Jarvis
October 26, 2015
Blog

Jefferson’s “Rightful Remedy”

This article was originally published at Townhall.com. Victor Davis Hanson has a strange and misguided infatuation with “Confederates.” In June, his widely read National Review piece on the Confederate Battle Flag equated the Confederacy to a “racist separatist group” like Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy, and just this week, Hanson suggested that so-called “sanctuary cities” are the new “Confederates.” Hanson’s overarching…
Brion McClanahan
October 22, 2015
Review Posts

John C. Calhoun and “State’s Rights”

  The following is an abridged version of a chapter which will appear in the forthcoming, From Founding Fathers to Fire-Eaters: The Constitutional Doctrine of States’ Rights in the Old South  “Union among ourselves is not only necessary for our safety, but for the preservation of the common liberties and institutions of the whole confederacy. We constitute the balance wheel…
James Rutledge Roesch
August 25, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XVII

It has been justly stated by a British writer that the power to make a small piece of paper, not worth one cent, by the inscribing of a few names, to be worth a thousand dollars, was a power too high to be entrusted to the hands of mortal man. --Calhoun, 1841 When it comes once to be understood that…
Clyde Wilson
August 12, 2015
Review Posts

The Old and the New South

Delivered as the commencement address for South Carolina College, 1887. What theme is most fitting for me present to the young men of the South, at this celebration of the South Carolina Col­lege ? What shall one, whose course is nearly run, say to those whose career is hardly begun ? In my retrospect I deeply sym­pathize with you in…
Review Posts

Randolph of Roanoke

This piece was originally printed in Southern Partisan magazine in 1986. Some miles beyond Charlotte Court House, in Southside Virginia, one may find his way to Roanoke Plantation, which seems almost as re­mote as it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century. From the Revolution until 1810, scarcely a white man set foot on that planta­tion.- black overseers and…
Russell Kirk
June 2, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

The South and the West, Part 2

It seems my mission here is to bring to your attention unfamiliar and unfashionable truths about American history. Let me give you another one. The American West, the frontier, was NOT conquered and settled by a “Nation of Immigrants.” George Washington was already the fifth generation of his family in Virginia, as were most of his neighbours. There was a…
Clyde Wilson
May 13, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

A Southern Tradition: Restraining Bad Government

In talking about the Southern political tradition, it is most appropriate to point to the North Carolina Regulators and the Battle of Alamance Creek. This event was, in fact, only one of many such episodes in the colonial South--in the first 169 years of our history as Southerners before the first War of Independence. There was Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia…
Clyde Wilson
April 1, 2015
Blog

They Lived in the Age of Calhoun

If "history is the essence of innumerable biographies," as Thomas Carlyle wrote, then the historian has the advantage of witnessing past life from beginning to end.  This is a solemn task.  We see the spring and vigor of youth transform into the resolution and candor of manhood.  The winter of life comes quickly, often suddenly.  For some, the impending doom…
Brion McClanahan
March 20, 2015
Blog

Calhoun on American Government, Politics, and War

"When it comes to be once understood that politics is a game; that those who are engaged in it but act a part; that they make this or that profession, not from honest conviction or intent to fulfill it, but as the means of deluding the people, and through that delusion to acquire power, when such professions are to be…
Clyde Wilson
March 19, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

“A Senator of Rome when Rome Survived.”

This selection was originally printed in Brion McClanahan and Clyde Wilson, Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012). Of the Great Triumvirate who dominated American public discourse from the War of 1812 till the mid-19th century, John C. Calhoun was the first to depart the scene, in 1850. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster lived a few more years. In a…
Clyde Wilson
March 18, 2015
Blog

“The Last Roman”: John Caldwell Calhoun

Born in 1782 near Abbeville, South Carolina, Calhoun's educational opportunities were limited, albeit advanced by the occasional tutelage offered by his brother-in-law, Reverend Moses Waddel. After his parents' death and a period of self-education, Calhoun entered Yale College, studying under the arch-Federalist Dr. Timothy Dwight. He proceeded to study law for two years under Judge Tapping Reeve at the Litchfield…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
March 18, 2015
Review Posts

John C. Calhoun Vindicated

This essay was first printed in the Southern Partisan Magazine, Volume III, Number 1 (1983). INTRODUCTION One hundred and forty years ago, Senator Henry Clay proposed a constitutional amendment to limit the veto power of the president of the United States. Senator John C. Calhoun replied to Clay; and that speech in reply is the most succinct version of Calhoun's…
Russell Kirk
March 17, 2015
Blog

John C. Calhoun: A Statesman for the 21st Century

Your ordinary run-of-the mill historian will tell you that John C. Calhoun, having defended the bad and lost causes of state rights and slavery, deserves to rest forever in the dustbin of history. Nothing could be further from the truth. No American public figure after the generation of the Founding Fathers has more to say to later times than Calhoun.…
Clyde Wilson
March 16, 2015
Blog

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XIV

I have seen enough of publick men to come to the conclusion, that there are few, indeed, whose attachment to self is not stronger, than their patriotism and their friendship. --Calhoun We are children of the earth. We are not unlike the Titans, the earthborn giants of mythology, who were invincible in battle only as long as their feet were…
Clyde Wilson
February 25, 2015
Blog

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XIII

South Carolina will preserve its sovereignty, or be buried beneath its ruins.  --Governor Robert Y. Hayne, 1832 I have lived too long not to know how reluctantly the clearest proposition is admitted against preconceived opinions.   --Calhoun Justice is truth in action.   --Joubert The primary object of the criminal law is not to secure liberty or privilege, but to take them…
Clyde Wilson
January 8, 2015
Blog

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XII

Experience has taught me, that in politicks, it is much more easy to gain the battle, than to reap its fruits. --Calhoun I had not realized how offensive the plain truth can be to the politically correct, how enraged they can be by its mere expression, and how deeply they detest the values and standards respected 50 years ago and…
Clyde Wilson
December 31, 2014
Blog

Sayings By or For Southerners, Part XI

It has been a rule with me, from which I have rarely departed, to pass in silence the misrepresentations to which I have been subject, in the discharge of my public duties;  leaving it to my after conduct to stamp the charge of falsehood on them.    --Calhoun Whenever  I  need  a  psychiatrist  I go fly  fishing, holding a boat to…
Clyde Wilson
December 26, 2014
Blog

Republicanism and Liberty: The “Patrick Henry”/”Onslow” Debate

The fiercely contested, yet inconclusive election of 1824 set the stage for one of the great debates of American political history. According to Irving Bartlett, “the key to understanding Calhoun’s political behavior and thinking from 1825 through 1828 may be found in the peculiar conditions under which the election of 1824 occurred.”  The same can be said of John Quincy…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
December 5, 2014
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Sayings By or For Southerners Part VI

When did the South ever lay its hand on the North? --Calhoun The body of a Confederate soldier was discovered near here a few days ago. I think I will go over and apologise. --Ambrose Bierce, former Union soldier Therefore I charge the young not to despise hunting or any other schooling. For these are the means by which men…
Clyde Wilson
October 28, 2014
Clyde Wilson Library

John C. Calhoun and Slavery as a “Positive Good:” What Calhoun Did Not Say

In what became the United States, servitude of people of the black African race existed for about two and a half centuries. The subject of American slavery is today so entertwined with unhealthy and present-centered emotions and motives—guilt, shame, hypocricy, projection, prurient imagination, propaganda, vengeance, extortion—as to defy rational historical discussion. Curiously, the much longer flourishing of African bondage—in the…
Clyde Wilson
June 25, 2014
Clyde Wilson Library

Nullification Reconsidered

With the destructive evil of centralized power becoming every day more evident and 10th Amendment resolutions appearing in various State capitals, publication this month of the second volume of Professor W. Kirk Wood's magisterial three-volume "Nullification:A Constitutional History, 1776-1833" is serendipitous. For the first time in a half century and long past due, serious people are beginning to search for…
Clyde Wilson
June 2, 2014
Clyde Wilson Library

Devolution

Equipped with an abundant knowledge of history, Michael Tuggle has cast a discerning eye on the trends of the present. Not the ‘trendy’ trends but the real ones, those which can guide our steps into the future (as far as the future can be known to us mortals). The trends suggest to him something very hopeful – the probability and…
Clyde Wilson
May 14, 2014
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Illegal, Unconstitutional, and Unjust

The historian Andrew C. McLaughlin in 1932 wrote that the British imperial system was characterized “by diversification and not by centralization....The empire of the mid-eighteenth century was a diversified empire” with power “actually distributed and exercised by various governments.” British colonies, including Ireland, “had long existed” as “bodies, corporate, constituent members of the Empire,” each with its own constitution and…
Brion McClanahan
April 15, 2014