Phillip W. Magness

Historian – 19th century United States

Buchanan and Agrarianism – a revealing passage

| July 19, 2017

In James M. Buchanan’s autobiography Better than Plowing, he offers a fascinating late-life reflection on a subject that he refers to as the country aesthetic. The discussion occurs in the 8th chapter of the book, which is about his reflections on life in old age. It’s a fascinating read and tells how Buchanan – at the […]

On Intellectual History and MacLean’s Missing Leviathan

| July 17, 2017

Today I’ll offer a quick observation on the ongoing controversy about Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains. In several recent interviews MacLean has presented her work as an “intellectual history” of James Buchanan. A few historians have come to her defense as well, taking a similar line and also suggesting that MacLean’s critics either don’t understand […]

Nancy MacLean’s segregationist sins of omission…and commission

| July 15, 2017

One of the most inflammatory charges of Nancy MacLean’s new book Democracy in Chains holds that James M. Buchanan, and by extension his department and research center at the University of Virginia, served as something of an intellectual buttress to the segregationist forces of 1950s and 1960s Virginia politics after Brown v. Board. MacLean has very little […]