A New Birth of Freedom is the culmination of over a half a century of study and reflection by one of America's foremost scholars of American politics, Harry V. Jaffa. This long-awaited sequel to Crisis of the House Divided, first published in 1959, continues Jaffa's piercing examination of the political thought of Abraham Lincoln and the themes of self-government, equality, and statesmanship. Whereas Crisis of the House Divided focused on the famous senate campaign debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, this volume expands and deepens Jaffa's analysis of American political thought, and gives special attention to Lincoln's refutation of the arguments of John C. Calhoun—the intellectual champion of the Confederacy. According to Jaffa, the Civil War is the characteristic event in American history—not because it represents a statistical frequency, but rather because through the conflict of that war we are able to understand what is fundamentally at stake in the American experiment in self-government.
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 Calhoun had built a rhetoric separating states' rights from natural rights; he claimed that his new political science superseded the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist thinking and that of the Founding Fathers in general.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.