Magazine February 23, 2009, Issue

Our Lincoln

(Roman Genn)
Obama, he was not

‘What is conservatism?”

This question has been getting more than its usual share of raking over in the post-Bush beginnings of 2009. But it was being asked in terms just as blunt 150 years ago, and the man asking the question was Abraham Lincoln.

Fresh from his near-victory over Stephen Douglas for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois, and soon to deliver a headline-grabbing speech at New York City’s Cooper Union, Lincoln posed the question to a political rally in Leavenworth, Kan., in December 1859.

In the broadest sense, said Lincoln, conservatism meant “preserving the old against the new.” In the American context,

To Read the Full Story
Allen C. Guelzo — Mr. Guelzo is the Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University.

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