Beginning in the 1830s, leading voices in the South, the foremost being John C. Calhoun, embraced slavery as what they called a “positive good,” and rejected any limits on slavery.
These Southerners knew the Founders opposed slavery in principle—and also knew they had taken significant actions, for example with the Northwest Ordinance, to contain the institution and to roll it back wherever possible—but they thought that the Founders were wrong to do so.
- Excerpts on Slavery – George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison
- Notes on the State of Virginia Query XVIII: Manners – Thomas Jefferson
- Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions – John C. Calhoun
- Speech on the Oregon Bill – John C. Calhoun
- Cornerstone Speech – Alexander Stephens
- First Inaugural Address – Abraham Lincoln
- In what specific ways did the “positive good” school reject the theory and practice of the American Founders regarding slavery?
- How does the new view of slavery and of human nature in the South serve as the foundation for a new view of sovereignty?
- On what basis does Abraham Lincoln argue that there is no legal right to secession?
Q & A Session
About the Professor
Mickey Craig is the William and Berniece Grewcock Professor of Politics, and the Chairman of the Politics Department at Hillsdale College.
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