Recommended Books

Edited by Clyde N. Wilson
John C. Calhoun was a major actor in the political history of nineteenth-century America. His dramatic career will always be of interest. However, Calhoun is equally important as a political thinker who continues to elicit widespread interest from the most diverse points of the ideological spectrum. The Essential Calhoun presents a full-fledged selection of speeches and writings taken from the entire forty-year span of Calhoun’s public career and from many varieties of occasions, public and private. For the first time, it is possible to appreciate Calhoun fully and to consider his thought within the compass of a single volume.
Calhoun is known to posterity as the premier defender of the Old South and slavery and as the theorist of the concurrent majority. His contemporaries knew him as much else, including a political economist and foreign policy authority. As the range of writings shows, he was a valuable and often prophetic commentator.
Calhoun’s thought testifies to a deep and abiding concern with moral and ethical issues that confront a government resting on the consent of the people. The fundamental question with which he wrestles in all his works is how to achieve and maintain a proper balance between power and liberty in a democratic society. By providing the most representative compendium of his thought, The Essential Calhoun invites the reader to engage in this exercise of applying the moral imagination realistically to the public business of America. Historians, American studies specialists, economists, and political scientists will find this volume indispensable.

by Barry Clark , Walter Block , Thomas Woods , Donald Livingston , Thomas DiLorenzo , Gene Kizer, Kevin Clauson , Kirkpatrick Sale, Brian McCandliss, Forrest McDonald

A collection of essays, articles and papers, in the tradition of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, that discuss secession from a legal, constitutional and historical perspective. The Annotated Secessionist Papers

By Magaret L. Coit
John C. Calhoun remains a striking and central figure in American history. From 1811 to 1850 he served as representative from South Carolina, secretary of war, vice president, secretary of state, and senator. During the same period he was twice contender for the presidency of the United States. From the beginning to the end of his career, Calhoun arrested public attention and influenced public opinion, having major influence on every issue of the period. A champion of state rights, he is an important figure in the drama of expansion ad conflict that is at the heart of American history in the nineteenth-century.
By Irving H. Bartlett
Examines Calhoun’s childhood as an orphan, his actions during the War of 1812, and his political career
Edited by H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
Edited by H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
This volume provides the most economical and textually accurate version of Calhoun’s Disquisition available today. As a treatise, the Disquisition is one of the greatest and most enduring works of American political thought, and a text of seminal importance to all students of American politics, history, philosophy, and law.

Although John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) remains one of the major figures in American political thought, many of his critics have tried to discredit him as merely a Southern partisan whose ideas were obsolete even during his lifetime. In Calhoun and Popular Rule, H. Lee Cheek, Jr., attempts to correct such misconceptions by presenting Calhoun as an original political thinker who devoted his life to the recovery of a “proper mode of popular rule.” He argues that Calhoun had a coherent, systematic view of human nature and society and made a lasting contribution to the theory of constitutionalism and democracy.
Cheek suggests that Calhoun was not a political or philosophical aberration, but an authentic exponent of American constitutionalism. He contends that Calhoun’s view of democracy forms part of a philosophy of humankind and politics that has relevance beyond the American experience. Although his idea of popular rule was original, it was also related to earlier attempts in America and elsewhere to limit the power of the majority and protect minority interests. According to Cheek, Calhoun stood in the American political tradition and attempted to re-articulate some of its central elements. He explains Calhoun’s idea of the concurrent majority and examines how it has been presented by Calhoun’s critics, as well as his followers.
As the first combined evaluation of Calhoun’s most important treatises, The Disquisition and The Discourse, this work merges Calhoun’s theoretical position with his endeavors to restore the need for popular rule. It also compares Calhoun’s ideas with those of other great political thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison–while explaining what is truly unique about Calhoun’s political thought.
Calhoun’s philosophy—his understanding of the need for ethical and political restraint and for institutional means for obtaining concurrence—is still relevant today, especially given the current growing ethnic and cultural conflict of the Western world. Scholars of government, American history, and political thought, as well as those interested in understanding “popular rule” and its theoretical and practical impact on modern American government, will find this groundbreaking work to be of great value.

Calhoun’s most important constitutional and political writings are now available as complete, unabridged texts and in a single volume, many for the first time since the 1850s. These writings address such issues as states’ rights and nullification, slavery, the growth of the Federal judicial power, and Calhoun’s doctrine of the “concurrent majority.”
This selection presents twelve notable speeches, letters, and essays by Calhoun; among them are his famous Fort Hill Address and his two great treatises on government—”A Disquisition on Government” and the “Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States.”
Ross M. Lence is Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston

John C. Calhoun (1782–1850), the South Carolinian who served as a congressman, a senator, and the seventh vice president of the United States, is best known for his role in southern resistance to abolition and his doctrine of state nullification. But he was also an accomplished political thinker, articulating the theory of the “concurrent majority.” This theory, John G. Grove contends, is a rare example of American political thought resting on classical assumptions about human nature and political life. By tracing Calhoun’s ideas over the course of his political career, Grove unravels the relationship between the theory of the concurrent majority and civic harmony, constitutional reform, and American slavery. In doing so, Grove distinguishes Calhoun’s political philosophy from his practical, political commitment to states’ rights and slavery, and identifies his ideas as a genuinely classical form of republicanism that focuses on the political nature of mankind, public virtue, and civic harmony.

Man was a social creature, Calhoun argued, and the role of government was to maximize society’s ability to thrive. The requirements of social harmony, not abstract individual rights, were therefore the foundation of political order. Hence the concurrent majority permitted the unique elements in any given society to pursue their interests as long as these did not damage the whole society; it forced rulers to act in the interest of the whole. John C. Calhoun’s Theory of Republicanism offers a close analysis of the historical development of this idea from a basic, inherited republican ideology into a well-defined political theory. In the process, this book demonstrates that Calhoun’s infamous defense of American slavery, while unwavering, was intellectually shallow and, in some ways, contradicted his highly developed political theory.

In the first full-scale biography of Calhoun in almost fifty years, John Niven presents a new interpretation of this preeminent spokesman of the Old South. Skillfully blending Calhoun’s public career with important elements of his private life, Niven shows Calhoun to have been at once a more consistent politician and a more complex human being than previous historians have portrayed. This masterly retelling of John C. Calhoun’s eventful life is a model biography.

“Constitutions stand to governments, as laws do to individuals. As the object of laws is, to regulate and restrain the actions of individuals, so as to prevent one from oppressing or doing violence to another, so, in like manner, that of constitutions is, to regulate and restrain the actions of governments, so that those who exercise its powers, shall not oppress or do violence to the rest of the community.”

-John C. Calhoun, Selected Writings and Speeches

The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Volume XXVII , 1849-1850
Edited by Clyde N. Wilson
Documents from the final year in the life of a great American statesman; The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Volume XXVII concludes the half-century project of the scholarly edition and publication of the letters, speeches, and papers of John C. Calboun. This volume chronicles Calhoun’s last sojourn at his Fort Hill home in the fall of 1849, his final months in Washington and fatal illness, and critical phases of the free soil controversy. Calhoun died on March 31, 1850, after a career of political service that began in 1808 and included membership in the South Carolina and United States Houses of Representatives, the United States Senate, the vice presidency, and executive posts as secretary of war and secretary of state. This volume also includes an extensive supplement of documents from 1804 to 1848 that were not available for inclusion in earlier volumes.

The Papers of John C. Calhoun : Volume XXIV , 1846-1847
Edited by Clyde N. Wilson and Shirley B. Cook
This volume details the importance of two themes that dominated Calhoun’s concerns: the efforts of the Northern majority to exclude the South from territories being won in battle; and his continuing campaign to curb American imperialism, which Calhoun thought boded ill for republican virtue.

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: 1844, Vol. 18
Edited by Clyde N. Wilson

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: Volume XXIII. 1846
Volume 23 of the collected papers of John C. Calhoun covering the last nine months in the twenty-ninth congress (April 1846 to December 1846) provides insight into the significant issues facing the country during the period including the Oregon crisis, the Mexican War, tariff reform

The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Vol. 17, 1843-1844
Calhoun’s “Discourse” presents a thoroughly investigated, systematic and extremely compelling argument on original Constitutional structure as agreed upon by the Founders. He catalogues his arguments with great clarity and clearly has a mastery of the subject. Calhoun outlines how the original States, acting in a capacity of “Creator,” came into a collective arrangement with one-another, in the form of a “Compact,” to form our Central government, identified as the “Created.”

Papers of John C. Calhoun: 1829-1832, Vol. 11

The papers of John C. Calhoun: Volume II, 1817-1818

The Papers of John C. Calhoun Volume I: 1801-1817

The Papers of John C. Calhoun , Volume XXV , 1847-1848
A complete presentation of Calhoun’s extant documents from December 1847 to August 1848, this volume brings the statesman to within a year and a half of his death in Washington, DC. These papers reveal his primary concerns during the first session of the 30th Congress.

The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Vol. XXVI, 1848-1849
THIS EDITION OF The Papers of John C. Calhoun presents documents from August 1848 through July 1849 that elaborate on the statesman’s labors to rally united action among Southerners in defense of their institutions and constitutional rights. Calhoun worked to complete his Disquisition on Government, which further illuminated his stance on such fundamental issues as the nature of man in society and the natural responsibilities of governments and the governed.

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: Volume XXIII. 1846

The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Vol. 21: January-June 1845

The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Volume XXII: 1845-1846

Papers of John C. Calhoun, 1818-1819, Volume 3

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: 1843-1844 

Papers of John C.Calhoun: 1835-1837, Vol. 13

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: Volume XV, 1839-1841

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: Volume XV, 1839-1841

The Papers of John C. Calhoun: 1833-1835, Vol. 12