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American Founding

Thomas Jefferson’s glowing appraisal of the average person’s moral impulse and acceptance of Lockean social-compact theory as the best basis of an operative political philosophy naturally led him to another of his key political principles: federalism... Asked...
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Collected Letters of John Randolph of Roanoke to Dr. John Brockenbrough, 1812-1833, edited by Kenneth Shorey (157 pages, Transaction Books, 1988) Planter, statesman, orator, and diplomat, John Randolph of Roanoke (1773-1833) stands out as...

James Iredell’s careful apologia for the American cause—a teaching which he developed in a series of essays and public letters written from 1773-1778—clearly contains a foreshadowing of what he thought should be in a constitution for the United States...

Thomas Jefferson is a kind of incarnate compendium of the Enlightenment. His remarkable openness to its spirit is the philosophical counterpart to his political sensitivity in making himself "a passive auditor of the opinions of others," so as to catch the "harmonizing sentiments of the day" and...

The Declaration of Independence is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We...

Many moons ago, for this very journal, I wrote an essay entitled "Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving,” offering an Englishman’s perspective on the singularly American feast that ushers in the holiday season. In...

The Founding Fathers and their heirs wanted to establish and maintain a prosperous republic, yet they welcomed limitations on prosperity as much as they had welcomed restraints on power. This healthy respect for limits offers a way to recover the political and moral realism that contemporary Americans...

It used to be a fundamental article of faith among American conservatives that the Constitution can only be understood in the context of the Founders’ original intentions. So, is it reasonable to believe that the Founders intended a...

Suicide of the West, by Jonah Goldberg (464 pages, Crown Forum, 2018) Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West is truly Socratic, in the original sense of thinking through a fundamental problem and...

The civic-nationalist view holds that subscribing to the philosophy of the Founding—equality, opportunity, individualism—is the defining trait of the American people. But others argue that it is those uniquely American practices that order the rhythms of life that make us love the United States as our home...

If James Madison offered the American republic a five-course meal of epicurean excellence, Roger Sherman was the short-order fry cook in the nearest greasy spoon, a block or two away from Independence Square...

For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents. Formerly bodily powers gave place among the aristoi. But since the invention of gunpowder has armed...
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No one who reads and digests A Better Guide Than Reason can fail to be revolutionized. We had thought that the great Southern political tradition—that of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John C. Calhoun, and the agrarians—was dead. Not so... A Better Guide Than Reason: Studies...
4 2014

The masters of slaves, it turned out, were themselves neither independent nor self-sufficient, but were bound to, and reliant upon, their slaves both for their welfare and their identity. This vague recognition in part accounts for the grim tone that Thomas Jefferson adopted in his analysis of...