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A New Birth of Freedom


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Election of 1800 and the Election of 1860 Chapter 2: The Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the Historians Chapter 3: The Divided American Mind on the Eve of Conflict: James Buchanan, Jefferson Davis, and Alexander Stephens Survey the Crisis Chapter 4: The Mind of Lincoln's Inaugural and the Argument and Action of the Debate That Shaped It-I Chapter 5: The Mind of Lincoln's Inaugural and the Argument and Action of the Debate That Shaped It-II Chapter 6: July 4, 1861: Lincoln Tells Why the Union Must be Preserved Chapter 7: Slavery, Secession, and State Rights: The Political Teaching of John C. Calhoun Appendix: "The Dividing Line between Federal and Local Authority: Popular Sovereignty in the Territories"-A Commentary

About the Author

Harry V. Jaffa is the Henry Salvatori Professor of Political Philosophy Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University, a distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute, and the author of ten books.


At last Jaffa, professor emeritus of political philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, delivers the long-promised and very worthy sequel to his classic, Crisis of the House Divided (1958), which brilliantly synthesized the content and meaning of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. In his new work for the serious student of the 16th president's Jeffersonian interpretation of Constitutional law, Jaffa sees Lincoln's utterances in the debates as summarizing his political thinking from the time of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise (1854) up until his message to Congress on July 4, 1861. Starting with the July 4th address, Lincoln began to wrangle politically and intellectually with the legacy of John C. Calhoun andDmore specificallyDwith Calhoun's arguments for states' rights and secession. Calhoun had built a rhetoric separating states' rights from natural rights; he claimed that his new political science superseded the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist thinking and that of the Founding Fathers in general. In this book's penultimate chapterDa fascinating critique of Calhoun's paradigmDJaffa accomplishes what he set out to do and vindicates, in his own words, "not only Lincoln's rejection of the Southern states' rights dogma but also the intrinsic validity of the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence, encompassing the proposition that all men are created equal." This title, which features a stark and striking photo of Lincoln on its jacket, should sell on Jaffa's reputationDRowman & Littlefield is planning a substantial first printing of 10,000 copies, and the author will do promotion in California, where he lives, and in Washington, D.C. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

After 40 years of ruminating on Abraham Lincoln and the coming of the Civil War, Jaffa has produced the sequel to his acclaimed A Crisis of the House Divided (1959). The author returns to the spoken and written record to discover how and why the Union came apart and how and why Lincoln, more than anyone else, made the case for the moral obligation to put it back together. Jaffa casts his study in the mode of a medieval commentary, parsing the words of Thomas Jefferson, John C. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, and Lincoln to explore such ideas as equality, slavery, democracy, union, and history. Calhoun and Lincoln do most of the verbal jousting here, with Lincoln getting the last word on the exceptionality and necessity of the American democratic experiment, expressed so fully in the Gettysburg Address, which stands, with the Declaration of Independence, as the touchstone for Jaffa's analysis. The author shows that Lincoln's intellectual and moral imperatives embraced all humankind and, in the end, made him not only the champion of Union but the enemy of slavery. This dense, demanding book on political philosophy will repay many readings and is a powerful rebuttal of those who insist that passion alone drives history and that great men did not mean what they said. Recommended for academic libraries.DRandall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Jaffa has again delivered a powerful contribution to Lincoln scholarship. Historians will find many riches in Jaffa's latest learned volume. -- Michael Vorenberg * American Historical Review *
Harry V. Jaffa takes his time. The wait is well worth it. In unpacking Lincoln's great speeches and debate orations, Jaffa shows what an astute, formidable, and brilliant interlocutor Lincoln was. -- Jean Bethke Elshtain, The Laura Spelman Rockeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago; author of Just War Against Terror * Civil War Book Review *
On exhibit in this book is a powerful intellect. . . . Among the prominent Americans who are brilliantly illuminated here as they have rarely been are Thomas Jefferson, John C. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, and, of course, Abraham Lincoln. -- George Anastaplo, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Constitutional Biography
A New Birth of Freedom more than meets the critical expectations that Professor Jaffa has invited in the years since his acclaimed study, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, reoriented scholarly investigation of Abraham Lincoln and the coming the Civil War. A work of profound historical erudition and disciplined philosophical criticism, Jaffa's new work offers an original analysis of the crisis of the Union in the perspective of the western political tradition and in the context of the constitutional principles of the American Revolution. More judiciously than any other twentieth-century scholar writing in the nationalist tradition, Jaffa meets the challenge posed by the political philosophy and constitutional constructions of John C. Calhoun and the southern secessionists. Recognizing the openness of the historical situation that existed in 1861, Jaffa provides the most searching and fair-minded analysis of Lincoln's reasons for resisting secession that I have ever read. -- Herman Belz, University of Maryland, College Park
Four decades ago, Harry Jaffa offered powerful insights on the Lincoln-Douglas debates in his Crisis of the House Divided. In this long-awaited sequel, he picks up the threads of that earlier study in this stimulating new interpretation of the showdown conflict between slavery and freedom in the election of 1860 and the secession crisis that followed. Every student of Lincoln needs to read and ponder this book. -- James M. McPherson, Princeton University
With A New Birth of Freedom Harry V. Jaffa reestablishes himself as the greatest living scholar of Lincoln's political thought and Lincoln's greatest defender, period. Jaffa's analysis of the First Inaugural is without parallel as he demonstrates once and for all the incoherence of Calhoun's arguments for the southern secession. For every citizen interested in the preservation of the American union and the principles on which it rests, Jaffa's book is a must-read. -- Steven B. Smith, Yale University
Harry V. Jaffa's A New Birth of Freedom is a brilliant and incisive explication of the political ideas that were at the heart of the coming of the Civil War. Jaffa is at his very best in demolishing the currently fashionable argument that the ideal of equality was not part of the American constitutional system from its beginning. This is a work of deep learning and great relevance, both to Lincoln's time and our own. It is a worthy sequel to the author's classic study, A Crisis of the House Divided. -- William E. Gienapp, Harvard University
Forty years ago, Harry Jaffa wrote the greatest book on Abraham Lincoln's politics for a generation; now, Jaffa has written the greatest book on Lincoln's politics for another generation. A New Birth of Freedom is a relentless, powerful analysis of how Abraham Lincoln claimed the high intellectual ground of right, of universality, and of prudence from the romantic and racist ideology of John Calhoun-and claims it still from the shadow of Calhoun's postmodern imitators. -- Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg College; author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President
Harry Jaffa's Crisis of the House Divided could rank as the 'first book' of American political science, for it showed how the whole tradition of political philosophy was brought to bear, by a gifted political man, on the gravest crisis of the American regime. For the same reason, that book stands, even today, as the best book ever written on Lincoln: it gave an account of Lincoln at the highest level, by actually taking seriously the substance of Lincoln's political thought. In A New Birth of Freedom, Jaffa provides the sequel, long-awaited. It is a sublime work, advancing and deepening the first. Lincoln comes out even more clearly in this new book as a model of 'classic statesmanship,' set off against all of the moral premises that would come with modernity, as Right and Left, would back into nihilism and reject the moral tradition. In Jaffa's hand, the account of Lincoln reaches the poetic, as indeed it must, for as the author allows, 'the place of the necessity in great poetry imposed by the artist may be occupied by a providential order in history, revealed in the speeches of the tragic hero.' -- Hadley Arkes, Amherst College
Forty years after his Crisis of the House Divided, widely recognized as a classic analysis of the ideas articulated in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Harry Jaffa has brought the same combination of impressive learning, breadth of knowledge and bold argument to his study of Lincoln's ideas at the outbreak of war. He places Lincoln's thought in a rich and broad context that ranges from Plato and Aristotle, and Dante and Shakespeare to Jefferson and Calhoun. This is a distinctive and provocative contribution to the current debate about the ideology and the ideals of America's greatest president. -- Peter Parish, University of London
A masterful synthesis and analysis of the contending political philosophies on the eve of the Civil War. A magisterial work that arrives after a lifetime of scholarship and reflection-and earns our gratitude as well as our respect. * Kirkus *
The appearance of Jaffa's A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War is an intellectual event of some significance. . . . The new volume will not prove a disappointment. It is a product of rigorous reasoning, reflects a profound knowledge of Lincoln and his era, and is cast in vigorous prose. And like the earlier volume, it expresses a deep moral seriousness. -- Glenn Tinder, University of Massachusetts * The Weekly Standard *
At last Jaffa, professor emeritus of political philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, delivers the long-promised and very worthy sequel to his classic, Crisis of the House Divided (1958), which brilliantly synthesized the content and meaning of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. * Publishers Weekly *
This dense, demanding book on political philosophy will repay many readings and is a powerful rebuttal of those who insist that passion alone drives history and that great men did not mean what they said. -- Randall M. Miller * Library Journal *
In this deeply thought-out and eloquently argued book, the sequel to his acclaimed Crisis of the House Divided, Harry Jaffa brilliantly distills the political thinking of Abraham Lincoln and its potent legacy. -- Charles Sermon * The State *
Jaffa shows the inner unity of Lincoln's words and deeds with an intelligence and loving care never before equaled. -- Charles R. Kesler * Claremont Review of Books *
The essence of Jaffa's case-meticulously laid out over nearly 500 pages-is that the Constitution is not, as Lincoln put it, a 'free love arrangement' held together by passing fancy. It is an indissoluble compact in which all men consent to be governed by majority, provided their inalienable rights are preserved. -- Bret Stephens * The Wall Street Journal *
A New Birth of Freedom was worth the wait. Jaffa has produced a tour de force: an unabashed but scholarly celebration of Lincoln, liberty, and equality; a book that achieves Jaffa's goal of understanding 'the true measure of Lincoln's greatness.' -- James L. Swanson * Chicago Tribune *
Jaffa's prose is elegant and learned but complex, and, like his arguments, intellectually demanding. This absorbing book requires much effort on the part of the reader, but that effort is well rewarded. * CHOICE *
No other scholar has scrutinized the main documents of early American political thought as thoroughly as Jaffa. Prof. Jaffa's valuable book is as comprehensive as an encyclopedia and as exegetical as a scholastic thesis. Whether one agrees with him entirely or not, his argument that the ideas of Jefferson and Lincoln represent an organic continuity is original and daring and deserves to be debated for years to come. -- John Patrick Diggins * National Review *
This book is a scholarly effort. It is not an easy read, yet the logic Professor Jaffa offers flows clearly, orderly, and in abundance. * The Anniston Star *
Jaffa's new book has the same solid core that his earlier book possessed. * First Things *
A mighty achievement that will likely (and justly) dominate the landscape of American political thought for some time to come. * Religion & Liberty *
Harry Jaffa has crafted a captivating study of Abraham Lincoln's decision to save the Union by force in the secession crisis following his 1860 election to the presidency. The author broadly examines the intellectual, moral, and legal bases of the American founding to show how Lincoln's positions were logically derived. -- Benjamine P. Tyree * Book World *
Erudition, brilliance, probing analysis of texts, and the relation of ideas to others. His [Jaffa's] writing is insightful, imaginative, argumentative, and usually persuasive. This book makes an important contribution to the study of Lincoln's thought. -- James A. Rawley * History *
Scholars should add A New Birth of Freedom to their must-read list. -- Daniel J. McInerney * Reviews in American History *
Jaffa presents an impressive analysis of Lincoln in the context of Jefferson, Madison, Calhoun, and even William Shakespeare. A New Birth of Freedom is an outstanding book. * Liberty Press *
A New Birth of Freedom is a master work by a true and learned master of history and philosophy. It is a must for every serious student of the founding of our nation, of Abraham Lincoln, and of the Civil War. A New Birth of Freedom should be required reading for all lawyers, judges, members of political bodies, and of the body politic, and especially those still in school. * Civil War News *
The principal virtue of Jaffa's book is the seriousness with which it treats its main topic. * Journal of American History *
Jaffa's analysis of Lincoln and his rhetoric offers great insight. . . . One hopes that . . . Jaffa may enjoy a lifespan of Mosaic proportions and continue for many years to enrich our understanding of Lincoln. * Rhetoric & Public Affairs *
No mere review can do justice to this new book; suffice to say that it is a stunning work of scholarship and erudition that vindicates Lincoln against both his contemporary adversaries and those who in our own time would diminish him and the principles of the American Founding he sought to perpetuate. * The Washington Times *
Continues the biography of Abraham Lincoln begun in Crisis of the House Divided. * Chicago Tribune *

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