Lincoln with Harry Jaffa on Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge, Hoover Institution, July 22, 2009.


In a year that marks the two hundredth year since the birth of Lincoln, and the fiftieth year since the publication of his own Crisis of the House Divided, Harry Jaffa discusses Lincoln as a thinker and philosopher as well as the great import of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and their lasting influence on American society. Jaffa explains that the Lincoln-Douglas debates centered on the question of whether the people make the moral law or the moral law makes the people. At the core of Lincolns political philosophy, Jaffa argues, was the proposition from the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. And it is this proposition that gives Americans alone, Jaffa says, a legitimate claim to a belief that their country is truly exceptional.