American Political Thought
The Philosophic Dimension of American Statesmanship
This book focuses on the political thought of American statesmen. These statesmen have had consistent and comprehensive views of the good of the country and their actions have been informed by those views. The editors argue that political life in America has been punctuated by three great crises in its history—the crisis of the Founding, the crisis of the House Divided, and the crisis of the Great Depression.
The Second World War was a crisis not just for America but for the whole of Western Civilization and, in the wake of that war, a new crisis arose which came to be called the "Cold War." Just when that gave the appearance of being resolved, the world reached a new juncture, a new crisis, which Samuel P. Huntington dubbed the "clash of civilizations." The statesmen having political responsibility in confronting the first three crises in America’s history came as close to philosophic grasp of the problems of liberal democracy as one could demand from those embroiled in the active resolution of events. Their reflection of political philosophy in the full sense informed their actions.
Since we cannot confidently explain the future, Aristotle warned us to call no man happy while he still lives. Thus the book, in its third edition, keeps to its settled pattern of dealing with settled matters. The preface to the third edition confronts the three later crises and, to the extent consistent with truth, attempts to relate them to the first three.