Matt and Sam dig into one of the all-time great battles among conservative intellectuals: Harry Jaffa vs. Willmoore Kendall and their disputes over the Declaration, Lincoln, and the meaning of the American political tradition.
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What is the status of "equality" in the American political tradition? What place does it have in the inheritance that conservatives are trying to preserve?
Matt and Sam pick up where they left off in their recent conversation with historian Joshua Tait, this time focusing on Harry Jaffa's devastating review of Willmoore Kendall and George Carey's The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition. In it, Jaffa defends Abraham Lincoln against Kendall and Carey's charge that he "derailed" our political tradition by putting the Declaration of Independence, natural rights, and the principle of equality at its center—a move, in their account, that opened the way to Ceasarism, the rights revolution, and more.
Sources and Further Reading:
Willmoore Kendall & George W. Carey, Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (Louisiana State University Press, 1970; reprint, The Catholic University of American Press, 1995)
Willmoore Kendall, The Conservative Affirmation (Regnery Publishing, 1963)
Harry V. Jaffa, "Equality as a Conservative Principle," Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, June 1, 1975
Joshua Tait, "Why Willmoore Kendall and James Burnham are the Prophets of Modern Conservatism," National Interest, April 30, 2021
Matthew Sitman, "Farewell to a Constitutional Conservative," The American Conservative, June 27, 2013