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10.19.01 Wilson, Clyde N., From Union to Empire, Essays in the Jeffersonian Tradition, published in 2003 by The Foundation for American Tradition

Notes Concerning the Author

Clyde N. Wilson (1941 – ___) is a native Tar Heel and is now retired form his long-time post of professor of history at the University of South Carolina.  He is best known for his editing and publication of a 28 volume edition of The Papers of John C. Calhoun and is book, The Essential Calhoun (see review at 02.06.15).  Other books by Wilson include, Carolina Cavalier, Why the South Will Survive. and Defending Dixie, Essays in Southern History and Culture (see our review at 10.19.02).  He has received the Bostick Prize for contributions to South Carolina literature.  Among his many present contributions to telling the story of South history and culture, is his leadership in The Society of Independent Southern Historians as it’s Director of Historical Review.


The most important article in this 343-page book is Wilson’s first of note, published in Modern Age in 1969, which was titled, “The Jeffersonian Conservative Tradition.”  This article alone is worth the acquisition of this book.  Wilson begins this article with an introduction and definition of terms, a wise approach to schooling the reader.  He then progresses to the original Federal Constitution and issues presented by Federalists and Anti-Federalist.  Continuing, he speaks of Jeffersonian Democracy, the Jacksonian Democracy.  Moving along, he engages the subject of the War Between the States and the Political Reconstruction that followed.  This he follows with segments on Populism and Progressivism.  This masterful and education essay conclude with a the story of the 1920’s and the New Deal of the 1930’s.  In a mere 15 pages, the reader, is schooled on this important political history more rapidly and thoroughly than perhaps ever before.

In the introduction to this book, Joseph R. Stromberg wrote that Wilson “is also, as his essays demonstrate, a teacher and writer of great merit.  His writings — published in Modern Age, Chronicles, Telos, and many other forums — show Professor Wilson off as the kind of conservative who is a stalwart defender of federalism and republicanism, and the liberties associated with them.  Such conservatives are few and far between these days. . . .  He is noteworthy for being one of a vanishing small group of professional historians who do not regard Southern life and history as one dark, Gothic misfortune after another.”

Availability of this Book

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