Journal of Libertarian Studies

Calhoun, Sectional Conflict, and Modern America

The Journal of Libertarian Studies

During the sectional crisis, the overwhelming practical and theoretical inheritance that nourished the Southern worldview was built upon an appreciation of the necessary limitations of social and political life. Primary among the means of limitation was the need for societal and personal restraint when faced with the possibility of radical transformation. While change and social mobility were not the most commonly acknowledged aspects of Southern society, neither were they beyond the pale of possibility.

John Caldwell Calhoun, perhaps the most probing and insightful thinker of this generation, presented an Aristotelian mean as the basis for installing an element of restraint in the operation of government. If government could not be restricted, the populace’s role in governing would be greatly diminished, and the regime would necessarily lose a sense of legitimacy. This essay will explicate Calhoun’s critique and its significance for contemporary politics and society.

Volume 16, Number 2 (2002)


Cheek, H. Lee. “Calhoun, Sectional Conflict, and Modern America.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 16, No. 2 (2002): 35–53.

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