An admiring biography of John C. Calhoun by Margaret Coit won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. A little later John F. Kennedy chaired a committee that declared Calhoun to be one of the five greatest U.S. Senators of all time.
The times have changed and recent writers have once more relegated Calhoun to a dark corner of American history.
In the first half of the 19th century Calhoun was for 40 years one of the half dozen most important public men of America. Seldom victorious, he was always important and always listened to on many more national questions than slavery.
Clyde Wilson, who is more familiar with Calhoun than anyone in our time, by exploring neglected aspects of his thought, demonstrates that Calhoun was a statesman—one who had a farseeing vision of the public good and told the people what he thought, even if unpopular. And that much of what he had to say is prophetic wisdom for the present.