A Reading of the Gettysburg Address

By |2019-11-18T22:03:18-06:00November 18th, 2019|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Civil War, Declaration of Independence, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, St. John's College|

Liberal education ought to be less a matter of becoming well-read than a matter of learning to read well, of acquiring arts of awareness, the interpretative or “trivial” arts. Some works, written by men who are productive masters of these arts, are exemplary for their interpretative application. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is such a text. [...]

In Search of the Real Abraham Lincoln

By |2019-10-04T09:35:03-05:00May 17th, 2018|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Christianity, History, Presidency, South|

For many, Abraham Lincoln became a symbolic Christ, for some, perhaps, more than symbolic. They could scarcely help themselves, the parallels were so striking. He was the savior of the Union, God’s chosen instrument for bringing the millennium to suffering humanity, born in a log cabin (close enough to a stable), son of a [...]

Statesmanship and the Dangers of Civil Religion

By |2019-11-26T12:42:03-06:00May 13th, 2018|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Bruce Frohnen, Christianity, Culture, Government, Politics, Religion, Timeless Essays|

Demands for statesmanship tend to hold up a model of greatness in political leadership that is profoundly dangerous. The desire to be “great” by upholding the interests of the nation as a political whole promotes a massive increase in the extent and centralization of political power… Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords [...]

Niebuhr’s “Irony of American History”: Still Vital at Sixty-Five

By |2019-04-02T15:24:34-05:00November 28th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Books, Conservatism, Foreign Affairs, Freedom, History, Virtue|

Reinhold Niebuhr finds that, ironically, we turn our virtues into vices when our virtue is “too complacently relied upon” or naively affirmed or trusted in—maybe even brazenly signaled to others—just as our power becomes problematic if we have an overweening confidence in our wisdom to employ this influence or force justly… The Irony of [...]

American Conservatism & the Old Republic

By |2019-04-04T12:48:04-05:00October 22nd, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, American Founding, American Republic, Conservatism, Featured, History, Presidency, Republicanism, Russell Kirk, Thomas Jefferson, Timeless Essays|

If anything identifies a conservative, it is his realistic appraisal of human nature—his appreciation of what is good and admirable, and his recognition of what is base… Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Thomas Woods as he explores what it means to be a conservative and how [...]

Lincoln’s Leadership in Factious Times

By |2019-09-02T00:11:32-05:00August 10th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, American Republic, Civil War, Constitution, History, St. John's College|

Abraham Lincoln did all that he could to preserve constitutional rule by trying to teach his fellow citizens what it means to be an American… The paradox of Abraham Lincoln’s appearance in the United States’ sectional conflict becomes manifest if one considers a passage written by James Madison in Federalist No. 10. In that [...]

A Miscarriage of Justice? The Trial of Mary Surratt

By |2017-07-06T20:11:59-05:00July 6th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, American Republic, Civil War, History, Justice, South|

Whether or not Mary Surratt participated in the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln will never be known with certainty. But we can judge definitively the manner in which federal authorities obtained her conviction, and ultimately her execution… “Passion governs, and she never governs wisely,” wrote Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Galloway in 1775.[1] Wise words [...]

Abraham Lincoln & the Growth of Government

By |2017-07-24T22:43:53-05:00May 25th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, Conservatism, Economic History, Featured|

Did the Republicans centralize power in the federal government under Lincoln? No doubt. But perhaps the more important question is: Which policies did Lincoln tolerate in order to achieve his overarching goal?... Among those who consider themselves "conservatives" and/or "libertarians," the issue of the role of government in a free society is one of the [...]

Abraham Lincoln and the Dignity of the Presidency

By |2019-05-16T11:31:29-05:00February 19th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, American Founding, Presidency, RAK, Russell Kirk|

Abraham Lincoln was a conservative statesman on the intellectual model of Cicero. In his dignity there was no hubris; much, he knew, must be left to Providence… The Roman Republic was at the back of the minds of the framers of the American Constitution; it was their hope that the chief magistrate of these [...]

Three Reasons Not to Like Abraham Lincoln

By |2017-01-24T21:31:43-06:00January 24th, 2017|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Civil War|

Despite his oft-quoted rhetoric of reconcilia­tion, Abraham Lincoln instituted a policy of total war, making certain that civilians suffered the cruelest deprivations. Because of him, the cemeteries of the nation were sown with 600,000 premature bodies… By way of prologue, let me say that all of us like the Lincoln whose face appears on the [...]

The Education of a President

By |2017-02-23T00:24:34-06:00December 2nd, 2016|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Classical Education, Education, Featured, George Washington, Gleaves Whitney, History, Liberal Learning, Presidency|

The lack of schooling in the formation of one of every four U.S. presidents underscores the paradox that even the most humble among them were often great champions of education in general and of the liberal arts in particular… Can the liberal arts prepare citizens for leadership? Most of us in higher education want [...]

The Power of Pregnant Speeches

By |2018-11-21T08:38:50-06:00October 28th, 2016|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, E.B., Eva Brann, Featured, History, Language, Rhetoric, St. John's College|

Here’s a cause close to my heart: public and semi-public speech. I mean occasions when we are addressed by our political leaders on grand occasions of concern to the whole republic, and times, like the present, when we choose to come together to hear what someone invited to do so says about a matter [...]