When Abraham Lincoln defined democracy by contrasting it to the relationship between masters and slaves, he took for granted that the type of polity he was dealing with, and hoped to reform, was a republic. The first modern republics were supposed to protect and cultivate a people’s liberty. Achieving and maintaining liberty—in the quite precise sense of security against domination—were chief objectives of government.
What made the most productive reform movements of Lincoln’s day...
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Jeffrey Stout is professor of religion at Princeton University. His books include Ethics after Babel and Democracy and Tradition, and the forthcoming Blessed Are the Organized. He is past president of the American Academy of Religion and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.