The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

of American political theory which has been worked out in the
cauldron of political expediency; that seems true even of Cal,
houn's philosophy of politics. The crime of Calhoun as a political
theorist was to defy the tradition which had produced him.
Nothing can be more inexpedient or politically more foolish
than a philosophy of politics which makes a political solution
to a political problem impossible. Yet Calhoun's principle of
rule by concurrent majorities made the exercise of power in a
political system out of the question. Calhoun admittedly arrived
at that point in 1850. It seems singularly unwise to travel down
that neo-Confederate blind alley in 1950.
That revival of an objectiveless political theory is, of course,
no fault of Mr. Spain, but one marvels at the blandness with
which the author can consider a political philosophy as if it
were within a vacuum. Or perhaps that too is an error of Calhoun.
It certainly is a failure if a philosophy of politics is true in
Charleston, South Carolina, and nowhere else. Undoubtedly
Charleston is not a vacuum.
Mr. Spain contends that Calhoun's doctrine confounded his
contemporaries and, within the same frame of reference, remains
unanswerable today. He states also that, given a particular en-
vironment, the Negro, as Calhoun argued, is generally inferior.
The broken link in that chain of logic is evident; a philosopher
whose love of truth leads him no further than a "particular
environment" or a "frame of reference," except as points of
departure, can hardly be said to be seeking truth, political or
Beyond question Mr. Spain's examination of Calhoun's political
philosophy performs a valuable service very well indeed, for it
makes clear the implications of the Calhoun theory. Students of
political thought, after reading Mr. Spain's book, can know with
clear understanding where they are going and select the route
of Calhoun or the way of Rousseau.
Texas Christian University
Thomas Jefferson: Scientist. By Edward T. Martin. New York
(Henry Schuman, Inc.), 1952. Pp. 289. $4.00.
This is a specialized study of a phase of Jefferson's life which


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 10, 2014.