Harry V. Jaffa

Where and when

Summary: Ever since the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas clashed repeatedly over the question of “popular sovereignty” and the extension of slavery into the territories. Each man became not only the spokesman of his party, but also the embodiment of a principle and a policy about which the structure of parties—and of political power in the nation—was to reshape itself. The central question in the seven joint debates of 1858, upon which the entire controversy turned, was the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the propriety of its restoration. The answer to this very practical question depended upon the answer to the deep theoretical question: in what sense could it be said that all men are created equal?

Harry V. Jaffa is a distinguished fellow of The Claremont Institute. He is Professor Emeritus of Government at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate School. He taught at The Ohio State University until 1964, when he went to Claremont. Dr. Jaffa is the author of numerous articles and many books, including his widely acclaimed study of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. His other books include Thomism and Aristotelianism, The Conditions of Freedom, How to Think About the American Revolution, American Conservatism and the American Founding, Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution: A Disputed Question, and most recently A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War. He received his B.A. from Yale, where he majored in English, in 1939, and holds the Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research.