To begin, there are those that will diminish or dismiss Calhoun out of hand without seriously considering his philosophy. Others will cherry-pick quotes, taken out of context of the time, space and culture in which he lived, that paint him as a racist as viewed through our current lens of the world. However, Calhoun should be considered, read and understood. His views of government are timeless, in fact Martin Luther King could have quoted Calhoun with great effect in the 1960’s to support elements of his cause.
Dr. Clyde N. Wilson dedicated five decades to compiling the papers of Calhoun, he is perhaps the foremost expert on the man alive. Of Calhoun and his contemporary relevance he says:
“Your ordinary run-of-the mill historian will tell you that John C. Calhoun, having defended the bad and lost causes of state rights and slavery, deserves to rest forever in the dustbin of history. Nothing could be further from the truth. No American public figure after the generation of the Founding Fathers has more to say to later times than Calhoun.”
Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun ♦ The Works of John C. Calhoun ♦ A disquisition on government ♦ South Carolina Exposition and Protest (1828) ♦ Letter from John C. Calhoun to Col. Andrew Pickens (text)