Tag: founding

ACF Founders #6: Lucas Morel on Lincoln


Today, I’m joined by my friend and professor Lucas Morel of Washington and Lee University for a conversation about his new book, Lincoln And The American Founding, a worthy contribution to our much-needed civic education. The book’s a wonderful read–a concise explanation of Lincoln’s thought and rhetoric on Washington and the Founding, the Declaration (and Jefferson), the Constitution (and Madison), slavery, and original intent. We also talk about why the teaching of natural rights is again needed to defend America from elites and mobs.

ACF Founders #4: An Independent Empire


Friends, here’s my conversation with Michael Kochin about how to run a modern empire. His new book, An Independent Empire: Diplomacy & War in The Making of The United States, covers the American Revolution and the task of dominating the continent in the face of Indian tribes and European powers. We talk about the conflicts between means and ends in the early administrations, the rise and fall of the Federalist party, then the Republican party, the original parties in government in America, and the ways in which practical men like James Monroe might make better presidents than studious lawyers like James Madison, or the different kinds of Founders.

Why Emanate Penumbras When There’s a Ninth Amendment?


Our Founders, in rebelling against Mother England, claimed for themselves “nothing but the liberty and privileges of Englishmen in the same degree, as if we had continued among our brethren in Great Britain”. Along with Blackstone, our Founders treated natural rights as A Thing. They drafted the Constitution as a document constraining the federal government to enumerated powers, and recorded in the Ninth Amendment that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” We’re all familiar with the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and the affirmation in the 14th Amendment that these rights are good against the federal government, too. But whatever happened to the unenumerated rights mentioned in the Ninth Amendment?

The Founders had good reason to believe in a constitutional order protecting unenumerated rights. After all, the Founders inherited their notions of rights, due process of law, and constitutionality from Mother England. Which isn’t to say they weren’t free to deviate from English traditions of law in declaring independence; obviously they were. But their understanding of law was rooted in English understanding of law, and only then shaped by their explicit deliberations. A reasonable person living at the time of ratification could be expected to understand the nature of law in a pretty English sense, a sense in which rights are discovered by the traditions of common law, and not all rights must be explicitly summarized in order to be respected.

Deep Dive on the Declaration of Independence and Its Relevance Today


In honor of Independence Day, for this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast I take a deep dive into the Declaration of Independence, discussing:

  • Its unique place in human history and the cause of freedom
  • The link between natural law and natural rights, faith and freedom
  • The Founders’ emphasis on virtue and morality to sustain a free system of limited government
  • Parallels between the charges laid out against King George III in the Declaration and modern America from the administrative state to sanctuary cities
  • The Founders’ views on slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and failing to live up to the values and principles of the Declaration
  • The imperative to defend liberty against tyranny
  • And much more

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found or download the episode directly here.

Member Post


Hello, friends & enemies, this is the third in a series of essays on comedy & conservatism. I started with some reflections on why comedy is the way to understand our situation. This is because our situation is remarkably like that of ancient Athens. Democracy is getting out of hand; & the opposition to democracy is […]

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