Review of Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States

Author: John C. Calhoun

Publisher: Dodo Press

I found this work very informative and intriguing, especially in light of Calhoun’s Disquisition. Disquisition is the precursor to this work, and deals with abstract notions of government; this work focuses on specific facets of American government. Calhoun’s great superiority as a writer lies in his aptitude for making smart distinctions, which he does in both works. But I did not find this work as strong as Disquisition, in large part because some of his reasoning in this work seems forced, and is hidden behind language which is very difficult to parse through (a common strategy among many writers who know their logic isn’t smooth).

The book’s major premise is that the Constitution was designed to prevent some interests from taking control of government and running wild with its prerogatives at the expense of other interests. No doubt this is a fantastic idea, one which deserves deep consideration in light of present trends in government. I did not feel, however, that Calhoun’s explanation of the specifics of the matter was as clear or as simple as it could have been. In Disquisition he keeps everything very simple, so this surprised me.

Nevertheless I enjoyed this book, and at fewer than 200 pages it is well worth the read. Could have been better, but still no doubt a great book.


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