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Republicanism

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Remember 1994

The problem now is the same as it was in 1994, the same as it was in 1980 (Reagan) and 2016 (Trump). The greatest Republican measure of conservatism that creates “waves” as opposed to pond-stills, e.g. Ford, Romney, McCain, Bush (any one of the New England preppies, carpetbagging Bush clan), is in the South. The real South. Not the South…
Paul H. Yarbrough
November 8, 2022
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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
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Vale Res Publica

Once again, it is politicking time in the good ol’ US of A.  The Democrats, the party of youth, vision, and vigor, present to the country a senile old socialist who doesn’t believe that poor white people exist, and a former first lady rejected by Netflix central casting for a role in  House of Cards (It was the looks, not…
John Devanny
March 24, 2016
Clyde Wilson Library

The Jeffersonian Democrat Rediscovered

A Review of A Plague on Both Your Houses, by Robert W. Whitaker. New York: Robert B. Luce, 1976, 208 pages. Hardly anyone has commented upon the seeming disappearance from American life of the Jeffersonian democrat. The Jeffersonian democrat was a hardy American breed, perhaps the only political type original to this continent. Outnumbering all other species between 1800 and…
Clyde Wilson
December 16, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

The Virginia Roots of American Values

"There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians." — Barnard Elliott Bee A Review of Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture, by Jack P. Greene, Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1988, 284 pages. We were British colonists for a long time.…
Clyde Wilson
December 9, 2015
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What Was the Confederacy After All?

This article was originally published at lewrockwell.com. In all the recent fuss over symbols of the Confederacy, whether to honor them or get rid of the lot, not much attention has been paid to what that Confederacy was, after all, and why it might  be something that anyone would want to commemorate. Of course one side doesn’t care.  It is…
Kirkpatrick Sale
December 7, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Can the Republic Be Restored: Presidency

The American President began as Cincinnatus, a patriot called to the temporary service of his country (a republican confederation). The President ends as Caesar, a despot of almost unlimited power, presiding over a global empire. Like the Caesars, in some quarters the President is even worshiped as a god. Cincinnatus was called because of his proven ability and patriotism. Caesar…
Clyde Wilson
December 2, 2015
Review Posts

The Same Old Stand?

This essay was published in Why the South Will Survive: Fifteen Southerners Look at Their Region a Half Century after I'll Take My Stand, edited by Clyde Wilson, 1981. When the Southern Agrarians took their stand, they did it stoutly, on two feet. Some emphasized the "Southern," others the "Agrarian," but fifty years ago it seemed that the two loyalties, to the South…
John Shelton Reed
December 1, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Thomas Jefferson, Southern Man of Letters, Part II

Several generations after his lifetime Jefferson became best known, as he still is, of course, for these words "All men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Here is another important lesson in understanding history. The American Founders tend to be treated as…
Clyde Wilson
November 11, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Thomas Jefferson, Southern Man of Letters, Part I

There was a popular ragtime song in the 1940s and ‘50s, derived from an old minstrel tune, that went like this: Is it true what they say about Dixie? Does the sun really shine there all the time? Do sweet magnolias blossom 'round every door? Do the folks eat possum till they can’t eat no more? If you really want…
Clyde Wilson
November 4, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

A Jeffersonian Political Economy

Your other lecturers have pleasant and upbeat subjects to consider. I am stuck with economics, which is a notoriously dreary subject.   It is even more of a downer when we consider how far the U.S. is today from a Southern, Jeffersonian political economy which was once a powerful idea. Economics as practiced today is a utilitarian and materialistic study. It…
Clyde Wilson
July 29, 2015
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Franklin Pierce: Reviled Jeffersonian

Sometimes opponents of nullification base their opposition on the claim that Jefferson and Madison’s blueprint against federal overreach could only have applied to a unique situation present in 1798. The Alien and Sedition Acts, they say, represented an extreme situation for which there was an applicable remedy, but those ideas have died and can never be invoked again. They say…
Dave Benner
July 23, 2015
Review Posts

The Danger to Governments, Founded on Written Constitutions, of Being Gradually Revolutionized by the Construction Placed on the Provisions of the Constitution by Those Who Administer the Governments

This may be done by enlarging and extending the powers conferred by a liberal construction, based upon the supposed reason and spirit of its provisions, so as to meet emergencies not anticipated and specifically provided for; by using the powers granted in such a manner as to accomplish objects incidentally, which were not embraced in the Constitution, and could not,…
Oran Milo Roberts
July 14, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

What This Country Needs

In one of Henry James’s less unreadable novels, The Bostonians, the hero is Basil Ransom, an impoverished ex-Confederate from Mississippi who is trying to make his way professionally in the urban North. The author wants us to see the tough, realistic, earthy Ransom as a healthy contrast to the decayed idealism of the wealthy, reformist, insular, enervated society of Boston.…
Clyde Wilson
July 8, 2015
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The Flag Controversy: We Did It To Ourselves

Who looks at Lee must think of Washington; In pain must think, and hide the thought, So deep with grievous meaning it is fraught. Herman Melville, "Lee in the Capitol," April 1866. “Be of good cheer: the flag is coming down all over, and it’s coming down because Rand Paul is right: it is inescapably a symbol of bondage and…
John Devanny
June 26, 2015
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The Prophetic Sage of Roanoke

There is no more singular statesman or person in the history of American politics than John Randolph of Roanoke. Eccentric in the extreme, volatile, and often ill-tempered, this Saint Michael of the South, this scourge of corruption, was also capable of passionate attachments to his friends, his slaves, and his country, that is Virginia. The same man whose piercing gaze…
John Devanny
June 2, 2015
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
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The Meaning of Name and Place

An address delivered on August 10, 1950, before the annual reunion of the Weaver family. Everybody admits, I believe, that the most difficult people of all for a man to convince are the members of his own family. And since I am here before a very complete gathering of my family, I look upon my case as a trifle hard,…
Richard M. Weaver
April 27, 2015
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We Are All Jeffersonians

Thomas Jefferson is perhaps the greatest enigma of the American age. He wrote and spoke on so many topics that he has become the symbol of virtually every strain of uniquely American political thought. Jefferson is the democrat, the agrarian, the federalist, the republican, the radical, the conservative, the statesman, the planter, the intellectual, the philosopher, the educator. Volumes have…
Brion McClanahan
April 13, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Scratching Fleas: American Historians and Their History

There is no group I would rather receive recognition from than the John Randolph Club. I want to thank my valued comrade-in-arms Tom Fleming for this occasion. Tom is the truly indispensable man. Can you imagine a world without Tom Fleming and Chronicles? It would be immeasurably more intellectually, culturally, and morally impoverished than it already is. I would not…
Clyde Wilson
March 11, 2015
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How ‘bout a Little Bourbon with Your Philosophy?

What exactly makes the South, the South? Hosts of scholars have puzzled mightily over this one. Historians might point to the old Confederacy, human geographers might look for the proliferation of Southern Baptist Churches, as well as clusters and distributions of BBQ joints and firearms ownership, while linguists ponder over the prevalence of “y’all” and other Southern speech patterns. The…
John Devanny
February 26, 2015
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Luther Martin Revisited

As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and as an eminent lawyer and statesman, Martin defended state sovereignty and the diffusion of political authority. He is usually identified as an Antifederalist. Martin was responsible for proposing several key components of the new government at the Convention, including the Electoral College, as well as earning a lasting reputation as a trial…
H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
February 20, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Cincinnatus, Call the Office!

“. . . a republican government, which many great writers assert to be incapable of subsisting long, except by the preservation of virtuous principles.” — John Taylor of Caroline The United States Senate, one summer morning near the end of the session in 1842, was busy with routine reception of committee reports. The Committee on the Judiciary reported favorably on…
Clyde Wilson
December 31, 2014
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The Political Wisdom of John Taylor of Caroline

In honor of John Taylor's birthday, December 19. From Tyranny Unmasked: “The rival remedy for our troubles, so insignificant in the eyes of the Committee as to be wholly suppressed, although it has been often enforced by a multitude of able writers, and some patriotick statesmen; and although it was the basis of two federal administrations, which diffused more happiness and…
W. Kirk Wood
December 19, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor and Construction

States’ rights may have been the defining force in Antebellum America, but modern, mainstream historians would have you believe that they were nothing more than a wicked creed cooked up by a few corrupt slaveowners. A review of a recent biography of John Taylor of Caroline referred to his “opprobrium” as the “premier states’ rights philosopher.” It would have been…
James Rutledge Roesch
December 19, 2014
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Nathaniel Macon and the Origin of States’ Rights Conservatism

This essay was first published at Unz Review on November 23, 2014. Back in 1975 the Warren County Historical Association initiated a comprehensive project to study the life and legacy of Nathaniel Macon. As a part of this project, both archaeological and architectural studies of his old Buck Spring plantation, near the Roanoke River, were commissioned. Working with the professional…
Boyd Cathey
December 17, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor of Caroline: Liberal, Radical, and Reactionary

Part V of a Five Part Series.  Part I, II, III, and IV. 1. Taylor as a Liberal “Individualist” Taylor writes that society not made up of individuals is a pointless abstraction: ‘Society exclusively of individuals, is an ideal being, as metaphysical as the idea of a triangle. If a number of people should inclose themselves within a triangle, they…
Joseph R. Stromberg
December 10, 2014
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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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The Underlying Realities of Obama’s Amnesty

Focusing on the cultural, political and economic long-term consequences of President Obama’s amnesty executive action obscures placing attention on a more fundamental problem lurking in the shadows of American culture and politics. That problem can best be described as political cowardness. The primary source of this pathetic state of affairs stems from the socialization of the American people regarding race.…
Marshall DeRosa
November 24, 2014
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Sayings By or For Southerners, Part VIII

It is the very genius of a consolidated Government to elevate one portion of the Community, while it corrupts the other. --Calhoun Generally, however, the secession movement was a remarkable testament to the compact theory of government, which Jefferson, more than anyone, had fixed upon the American political mind. --Merrill D. Petersen Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately…
Clyde Wilson
November 21, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor on War, Peace, and Imperial War Finance

Part IV of a Five Part Series. Part I, Part II, Part III 1. War Finance Disillusioned by the policies of his Republican allies, who had leapt unprepared into the War of 1812, Taylor writes: “War is among the most plausible means used to delude a nation into the errour of anticipation,” or living on credit: ‘Yet it cannot bring…
Joseph R. Stromberg
November 17, 2014
Review Posts

The Political Economy of John Taylor of Caroline

Part III of a Five Part Series. Part I, Part II. 1. Republicanism and Liberalism Revisited As noted previously, 18th-century Anglo-American opposition writers employed several political languages. One of these, classical republicanism, asserted reciprocal causal relations between power and property such that a republic secures stability and liberty by way of a “mixed constitution” resting on a broad class of…
Joseph R. Stromberg
November 6, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor on Federal and Constitutional Questions

Part II of a Five Part Series. Part I 1. Liberalism Taylor stood on liberal ground in holding that men were a mixture of good and evil. Self-interest was the only real constant in human action.43 He broke with archaic-republican ideas of mixed constitutions and social balance. His key idea was to divide power up so many ways, federally and…
Joseph R. Stromberg
October 14, 2014
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Where Mason Left Us

This essay is in honor of George Mason's death, October 7, 1792. He wrote the foundational words for America. If we listen, he taught us the dream that the import of America is greater, more important than any government of any United States. He continues today as he was in his time, a pulsating presence of cogency, learning and disregard…
Vito Mussomeli
October 13, 2014
Clyde Wilson Library

Small Is Beautiful

When I first heard of the topic "Small is Beautiful," I thought of the wonderful motto of Chilton Williamson's friend Edward Abbey: "Growth is the Enemy of Progress." Abbey went right to the heart of the matter. The false but pervasive premise of American life is that progress and growth are the same thing and are defined and justified by…
Clyde Wilson
October 2, 2014
Clyde Wilson Library

Please Tread On Me

“Sic Semper Tyrannis.” — from the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia “I want everybody to hear loud and clear that I’m going to be the president of everybody” — George W. Bush “I hope we get to the bottom of the answer. It’s what I’m interested to know” — George W. Bush A bit of folklore, often retailed,…
Clyde Wilson
October 1, 2014
Review Posts

James Jackson: Forgotten Founding Father

This essay appears in Clyde Wilson and Brion McClanahan, Forgotten Conservatives in American History and is reprinted here in honor of Jackson's birthday, Sept 21. James Jackson did not sign the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. But his heroism in the War of Independence and his exemplary integrity and republican statesmanship in the first days of the U.S. government…
Clyde Wilson
September 22, 2014
Review Posts

A National or Federal Government

Part IV of a four part series. Part I, Part II, Part III. I come now to urge my objection to the jurisdiction of the court. It goes on the ground, that it is not competent to the general government, to usurp rights reserved to the States, nor for its courts to adjudicate them away. It is bottomed upon the…
Spencer Roane
September 15, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor: Republicanism, Liberty, and Union

Part 1 of a Five Part Series 1. The Relevance of John Taylor John Taylor of Caroline (1753-1824) has a secure, if minor, place in the history of American political thought. Charles A. Beard considered him “the philosopher and statesman of agrarianism” and “the most systematic thinker” of the Jeffersonian Republican party. Indeed, Beard's writing on Taylor, early in the…
Joseph R. Stromberg
September 12, 2014
Review Posts

Rights of the States and of the People

This is Part I of four letters that originally appeared in the Richmond Enquirer in 1819 under the nom de plume Hampden. They could have been written yesterday. To the Editor of the Enquirer: By means of a letter to you, sir, I beg leave to address my fellow citizens. I address them on a momentous subject. I address them…
Spencer Roane
August 21, 2014
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The Dix Note and Southern Freedom

While cleaning my study the other day I ran across my copy of a $10.00 “Dix” note. This paper money was issued by the Bank of New Orleans up to 1860. Looking at my copy of the “Dix” note cause me to reflect on the disastrous changes that have occurred in the Southern economy since the days of that quaint…
James Ronald Kennedy
August 18, 2014
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The Real Constitution

The real U.S. Constitution, which was scrapped long ago, does not permit judges to be its final interpreters, executive orders, coercion of the people of a State by the federal government, delegation of control of the currency to a private banking cartel, the subsidy of private corporations, or calling the militia to active service except in case of invasion or…
Clyde Wilson
August 7, 2014
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Musings on Dislocation

Dislocation brings with it a multiplicity of dissonance. Moving disrupts the consonance of time and place, of family, friends, parish, and all the landmarks and milestones that speak to us of our country; that is our homes. On the Feast of the Holy Family (old calendar), December 29, 2013, this reality of dislocation and dissonance intruded upon my family and…
John Devanny
July 17, 2014
Review Posts

Caveat, America, Emptor

Probably no man in America in 1800 knew more about, or cared more passionately for, republicanism than Thomas Jefferson. It was the common belief that a true republic had to be of a fairly limited size, on the model of the Greek republics, in which Athens, at perhaps 200,000 was the largest, or the Italian republics of the middle ages,…
Kirkpatrick Sale
May 27, 2014