Cover image for A new birth of freedom : Abraham Lincoln and the coming of the Civil War
A new birth of freedom : Abraham Lincoln and the coming of the Civil War
Jaffa, Harry V.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 549 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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E459 .J34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book represents the culmination of over a half a century of study and reflection by Jaffa, and continues his piercing examination of the political thought of Abraham Lincoln.

Author Notes

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. He lives in Claremont, California.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 Calhoun had built a rhetoric separating states' rights from natural rights; he claimed that his new political science superseded the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist thinking and that of the Founding Fathers in general.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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this large and ambitious book, Jaffa demonstrates that in taking a firm stand against slavery and in favor of the equality of man on the eve of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was holding strictly to the principles of Thomas Jefferson and the other founders of the American Republic. Jaffa also argues persuasively that Jefferson and Lincoln's assertion that "all men are created equal" was and is objectively true and right. He argues vigorously and convincingly against current trends of relativism and historicism, showing that the rightness of Lincoln's and Jefferson's claims is not, as some modern scholars would claim, a matter of indifference. In a philosophical tour de force Jaffa delves into the thought of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, as well as Jefferson and Lincoln. With rigorous logic he demolishes the philosophical constructs of John C. Calhoun, in whose thought he sees strong similarities to that of Karl Marx. 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. Academic collections. S. E. Woodworth; Texas Christian University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Chapter 1 The Election of 1800 and the Election of 1860p. 1
Chapter 2 The Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the Historiansp. 73
Chapter 3 The Divided American Mind on the Eve of Conflict: James Buchanan, Jefferson Davis, and Alexander Stephens Survey the Crisisp. 153
Chapter 4 The Mind of Lincoln's Inaugural and the Argument and Action of the Debate That Shaped It--Ip. 237
Chapter 5 The Mind of Lincoln's Inaugural and the Argument and Action of the Debate That Shaped It--IIp. 285
Chapter 6 July 4, 1861: Lincoln Tells Why the Union Must Be Preservedp. 357
Chapter 7 Slavery, Secession, and State Rights: The Political Teaching of John C. Calhounp. 403
Appendix "The Dividing Line between Federal and Local Authority: Popular Sovereignty in the Territories"--A Commentaryp. 473
Notesp. 489
Indexp. 537
About the Authorp. 549