[T]oday we are somewhere near a terminal process in the history of western civilization—not just in the history of this republic—in which a dark night of the soul could very well be the fate of the world if certain cataclysms with which we are threatened come to pass.

—Harry V. Jaffa, 1980

During the Cold War the destruction of the American republic under a barrage of Soviet nuclear-tipped missiles was considered a remote but distinct possibility. Today, we again face the possible end of the American republic. This cataclysm, however—should it come to pass—would not be the result of a foreign military occupation, but of a division among our fellow citizens. Abraham Lincoln warned of this possibility in 1838. The greatest threat to American republicanism, he said in his Lyceum Address,

must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad…. [We] must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Our current state of affairs would not have surprised Harry V. Jaffa (1918–2015), the intellectual founder of the Claremont Institute. When four Jaffa students—Larry P. Arnn, Christopher Flannery, Peter W. Schramm, and Thomas B. Silver—created the Institute in 1979, American conservatism was still finding its legs. It was not

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