Russell Kirk on the Variety and Mystery of Human Existence

By |2019-08-08T14:05:48-05:00May 10th, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Founding, Edmund Burke, John Adams, Russell Kirk, Ted McAllister, The Conservative Mind, Tradition|Tags: |

Too often the public conversation about universal truths divides along rather sterile ideological lines. Russell Kirk’s great warning is that this is not really a battle of ideas, understood abstractly, but a battle of sentiments or affections… Since the nation’s founding, a salutary tension has informed American political thought—a tension between the abstract, universal truths [...]

Let Justice Be Our Guide: Federalism and the Constitutional Convention

By |2018-10-26T22:55:36-05:00October 29th, 2015|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Constitution, Constitutional Convention, Featured, Federalist Papers|Tags: |

James H. Hutson concludes his valuable 1984 survey of two hundred years of Constitutional scholarship on a pessimistic note. Scholarship, says Hutson, is at a standstill because there is no consensus on how to interpret what took place at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Into the vacuum created by the protracted war between conflict and [...]

The Politics of Prescription: Russell Kirk’s Fifth Canon of Conservative Thought

By |2014-03-23T09:26:26-05:00March 23rd, 2014|Categories: Edmund Burke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind|Tags: , |

Defending tradition is a difficult task in an age that is predisposed to innovation and change. Yet that has been the challenge to conservatives in the modern age. Modernity inverts the conservative prejudice for prescriptive wisdom; it favors change and innovation as the instruments of progress; it places faith in what Edmund Burke called the [...]

Politics and War in Churchill’s Life of the Duke of Marlborough

By |2019-08-15T15:50:44-05:00March 10th, 2014|Categories: Books, Winston Churchill|Tags: , |

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough Marlborough: His Life and Times. By Winston S. Churchill. 4 vols. (London: George G. Harrap and Company, 1933-38). Not a whit less important than his deeds and speeches are his writings, above all his Marlborough—the greatest historical work written in our century, an inexhaustible mine of political [...]

James Wilson: Political Thought and the Constitutional Convention

By |2020-01-23T12:17:55-06:00February 27th, 2014|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Constitutional Convention, Featured, George W. Carey|Tags: |

Scholars familiar with the writings and career of James Wilson are struck by the discrepancy between the status accorded him by most constitutional historians and the magnitude of his contributions to our founding.[1] In their view, Wilson’s record clearly entitles him to a place among the honored “elite” of the founding era such as Madison, [...]

Religion and The Conservative Mind

By |2014-09-29T10:51:11-05:00November 15th, 2013|Categories: Political Science Reviewer, Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind|Tags: , |

To know The Conservative Mind is to know the mind of its remarkable author, Russell Kirk. He was an old-fashioned man—courtly, retiring, serene, formal in dress and manner—whose view of the world, proclaimed by every photograph, was traditional, anti-modern, even obscure. Captured in his study, his library, his home, surrounded by pens, books, family, and friends, he [...]

Edmund Burke’s Legal Erudition and Practical Politics: Ireland and the American Revolution

By |2014-04-25T07:35:23-05:00August 22nd, 2013|Categories: Edmund Burke, Peter Stanlis, Political Philosophy|Tags: |

I. Burke’s Legal Erudition Edmund Burke (1729–1797), was born and grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and even before he graduated from Trinity College in 1749, his father, Richard Burke, registered him as a student of law in the Middle Temple in London. At age twenty-one, in 1750, Burke went to London to study law. At [...]

Foundations of the American Republic: Whig Political Theory?

By |2019-05-25T14:34:46-05:00July 16th, 2013|Categories: American Founding, Books, Donald Lutz, Federalist Papers|Tags: |

The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, by Gordon S. Wood Bernard Bailyn and Gordon S. Wood are already regarded by professional historians as among the best of their respective generations.[1] Bailyn is credited with having significantly shifted our view of the American Revolution’s origins, and Wood [...]

Russell Kirk, Myth and Meaning in the Writing of American History

By |2017-09-05T23:06:30-05:00February 3rd, 2013|Categories: History, Mark Malvasi, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

America is the land of progress, speculative, contingent, pragmatic, experimental, traditionless. An American conservatism, accordingly, is oxymoronic, blundering, graceless, and embarrassing in a society devoted to change and forgetful of the past. “The storybook truth about American history,” began Louis Hartz in The Liberal Tradition in America, is that the country “was settled by men who [...]

Madison & the Dynamics of the Constitutional Convention

By |2014-04-26T11:57:32-05:00May 19th, 2012|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Constitutional Convention, James Madison|Tags: |

Studies of the Constitutional Convention, both “empirical” and more “impressionistic,” almost always emphasize its multiplex divisions: small states vs. large, “pure” federalists against proponents of a large republic, planting states against commercial interests, south against north. There is no denying the necessity of close attention to these conflicts. The Convention was a battleground for disagreeing [...]

Republicanism and The Federalist

By |2018-11-28T22:07:08-06:00March 29th, 2012|Categories: American Republic, Constitution, Featured, Federalist Papers, George W. Carey, Republicanism|Tags: |

The first essay of The Federalist provides a convenient point of departure for exploring Publius’s conception of republicanism and the problems associated with it. Towards the end of this essay, he informs us that among the “interesting particulars” he intends to take up in the subsequent papers is “The conformity of the proposed Constitution to [...]

Redeeming America’s Political Culture: The Kirkean Tradition and Traditional Conservatives

By |2017-12-09T14:06:20-06:00February 15th, 2012|Categories: American Republic, Bruce Frohnen, Politics, Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind|Tags: |

By and large, the American Revolution was not an innovating upheaval, but a conservative restoration of colonial prerogatives. Accustomed from their beginnings to self-government, the colonials felt that by inheritance they possessed the rights of Englishmen and by prescription certain rights peculiar to themselves. When a designing king and a distant parliament presumed to extend [...]

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