Divine Providence and the American Revolution:
Upon the whole nothing appears to me more manifest than that the separation of this country from Britain, has been of God; for every step the British took to prevent, served to accelerate it, which has generally been the case when men have undertaken to go into opposition to the course of Providence, and to make war with the nature of things.
John Witherspoon, Sermon delivered at a Public Thanksgiving after Peace, November 28, 1782, quoted in The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations, James H. Hutson (editor) (Princeton University Press: 2005), pg. 18.
John Dickinson and the American Constitution:
that's the topic explored in this fascinating post
over at The Imaginative Conservative. Did you know that the Federalist Papers weren't the only defense of our Constitution at the time of its proposal? American founding father John Dickinson wrote a set of articles, under the pen name Fabius, in defense of the proposed Constitution. How powerful was Dickinson's argument in favor of the Constitution? Powerful enough to earn the praise of the Father of Our Country, George Washington. Read the entire post by George S. Ahern to learn more. And I now have another book to add to my queue at the local public library!
Frank Meyer and Richard M. Weaver Discuss Libertarianism and Conservatism:
the Philadelphia Society has audio recordings posted of a fascinating discussion about political theory
between paleolibertarian Frank Meyer
and paleoconservative Richard M. Weaver
. There is additional commentary recorded by other noted folks as well, but the discussion between Meyer and Weaver is what got my attention. Both Meyer and Weaver advocated the fusion of libertarianism with conservatism, although in differing proportions, with Meyer arguing for a largely libertarian approach to politics, while Weaver advocated for a moral traditional conservatism that incorporated elements of the libertarian critique of the scope of government. Amazing to hear their voices express their thoughts!
Founders Famous and Forgotten:
that's the title of this post by Daniel L. Driesbach
, posted over at The Imaginative Conservative. Driesbach provides an insightful overview of why we consider some founders are important, why others fall by the wayside of popular imagination, and why some of the less-known founders are still critically important for understanding our constitutional and political order. Driesbach concludes his essay with this word of warning -- something anyone interested in the American Founding should keep constantly in mind:
The near exclusive focus on a select few virtually deified famous founders impoverishes our understanding of the American founding. It also departs from the canons of good scholarship. The demands of honest scholarship require scholars to give attention to the thoughts, words, and deeds of not only a few selected demigods but also an expansive company of men and women who contributed to the founding of the American republic.
Our nation was not built only by those we consider, in light of our own prejudices & perspectives, "great men." To understand our nation, we need to broaden the scope of the men & women we consider worthy of study.
Cold Warrior for Freedom, Cold Warrior for Peace:
there's a great article by Fred Barnes posted over at The Weekly Standard: The Real Reagan
. Barnes does a good job in a short space debunking many of the myths about Reagan that have grown up since his affliction with Alzheimers disease and his passing. Well worth a read.
One point about Reagan that is often overlooked by his modern admirers is his moral opposition to nuclear weapons. Reagan was a staunch defender of the West who rightly understood that the Soviet empire was evil to its core. But he also was opposed to the strategy of mutual assured destruction and he very much wanted to help create a world free of nuclear weapons. As Barnes writes:
[T]he big ideas of the Reagan era came from Reagan himself. The biggest was his obsession with eliminating nuclear weapons entirely, a goal he pursued despite the opposition of many of his advisers and his closest foreign ally, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. It was Reagan, not his aides, who came to the conclusion that mutual assured destruction, the theory that fear of massive nuclear retaliation would deter a first strike by the United States or the Soviet Union, was immoral. “What’s so good about a peace kept by the threat of destroying each other?” Reagan asked “many times,” according to Secretary of State George P. Shultz. “The public was hesitant to embrace” Reagan’s idea, Shultz writes in the foreword to Reagan’s Secret War, and “advisers Reagan trusted and who were experts in this area didn’t support it. But none of that diminished Reagan’s conviction.”
And it was Reagan who thought it possible to win the cooperation of the Soviets. All they needed was assurance of America’s good intentions. Shultz agreed and became his closest adviser. Reagan rebuffed efforts by hardliners in his administration to have Shultz fired, explaining in his diary on November 14, 1984, “George is carrying out my policy.”
His most ambitious -- and most mocked -- strategic plan to accomplish these goals was SDI, the Strategic Defense Initiative
, which was ridiculed by Reagan's opponents as "Star Wars." Far from being something out of science fiction, SDI was a forward thinking effort to use technology to create a defensive system that would render nuclear weapons obsolete. Reagan showed himself to be no reactionary, but rather a visionary with his proposal. And he was willing to reach out to the leaders of the Evil Empire
to do it. Even if that meant rejecting the direction his hardline advisors wanted to take.