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A Disquisition on Government

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1587311857
ISBN-10: 1587311852
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About the Author

John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) was a leading politician and political theorist during the first half of the nineteenth century.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: St. Augustines Press (September 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587311852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587311857
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. Setliff on December 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
~A Disquisition on Government~ deserves a renewed hearing among students of political science. Calhoun's Disquisition was a profoundly reflective parcel of American political thought that typifies what historians characterize as the South Atlantic Republicanism. Calhoun's concept of concurrent majorities and his understanding of the American federal system are deeply reflective. This masterful work was part of a reactionary imperative against the consolidating tendencies of the Jacksonian era. Britain had its Burke. America had its Calhoun.

As Lee Cheek notes, "In articulating the inherited understanding of properly constituted popular rule for his political situation, Calhoun may be called the last of the Founders." Undoubtedly, if we are to ever initiate a meaningful renaissance of federalism and implement needed constitutional reforms within the United States, such a move necessitates the revival of the statesmanship of John Calhoun. So, Dr. Cheek's books are a good place to start.

In the years ahead, as political science advances, and the judgment of history takes hold against the American slip into consolidation, Calhoun will likely receive a renewed hearing. H.L. Cheek, Jr. is to be commended for his scholarship on Calhoun's ideas. Invigorating the body politic entails the rediscovery and subsequent application of Calhoun's statesmanship. Apart from Calhoun's own books, Cheek's scholarship is definitive on the subject.

I highly recommend reading this book in tandem with _Calhoun and Popular Rule: The Political Theory of the Disquisition and Discourse_ by H.L. Cheek, Jr. as well. It is one of the most erudite and illuminating books on the mind of one John C. Calhoun. You can also find his online article, "Calhoun, Sectional Conflict, and Modern America," through the Journal of Libertarian Studies, which is affiliated with the Mises Institute.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. H. Lee Cheek and St. Augustine's Press should be commended for making Calhoun's "Disquisition" available in an inexpensive edition that is ideal for students. The "Disquisition" is one of the most important and original contributions to American political thought. It is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand American history and government. Though there are other editions of Calhoun's treatise, the introduction by Cheek, who established himself as his generation's leading authority on the "Disquisition" with Calhoun and Popular Rule: The Political Theory of the Disquisition and Discourse, sets this one apart.
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Format: Paperback
John Calhoun, the Iron Man from South Carolina, is often described as the last of the founding fathers, as his contributions to political theory are among the most original in our literature. Calhoun was the anonymous author of nullification writings while sitting as Vice President of the United States!

This essay is a very concise treatment of why American politics will always resolve to the two party system and why another check on Federal power is needed -- what Calhoun terms the "concurrent majority". I consider it essential in understanding the weakness in the checks and balances system and how Consitutional government has devolved over time to popular democracy.
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History has been unfair to Mr. Calhoun. His idea of the "concurrent majority," as well as his development of it, is brilliant. The right of dissent is at the heart of republican government, and the right should not be undervalued. But whether this idea can work in a nation that is as culturally diverse and as unassimilated as this one, I am doubtful. One wonders whether, under the power of Calhoun's idea, any positive political agreement at all would be feasible in contemporary America, because the country is fractured in countless ways. To avoid political paralysis, perhaps a correlative point would be the insistence upon a significant degree of cultural homogeneity as a condition precedent for the workability of the concurrent majority idea. That, however, is a book for our time, not Calhoun's.
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