Harry Jaffa, R.I.P.

Richard Brookhiser, National Review Online, January 12, 2015.


Harry’s great and lasting service was to rescue Abraham Lincoln from the whittlers and the minimizers. Early/mid-20th century biographers like Beveridge and Randall added to our detailed knowledge of Lincoln, but in their effort to be scientific and non-partisan, they lost sight of what was at stake in the 1850s and 60s. The Crisis of the House Divided, which Harry wrote for the centennial of the Lincoln/Douglas debates, reminded his scholarly colleagues that politics is sometimes about something; and in Lincoln’s life it was about something vitally important — the nature, and hence the future, of the United States. Imagine a white republic with a slave economy entering the imperial scramble of the late 19th century and beyond — its effect on the world, and on ourselves at home. Harry also defended Lincoln indirectly from his Communist admirers and black nationalist detractors. Lincoln was not concerned, or insufficiently concerned, with justice for the proletariat or for the black man. He was concerned with justice.

National Review Online