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BPC professor edits classic political text

A Disquisition on Government by John C. Calhoun

The cover of Dr. H. Lee Cheek Jr.’s latest publication, A Disquisition on Government by John C. Calhoun.

MOUNT VERNON—Editing a classic is not an easy task, but Brewton-Parker College’s (BPC) Dr. H. Lee Cheek Jr., chair of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was well-prepared for the task. 

As a professor of political science, and one of the country’s leading scholars of John C. Calhoun’s life and work, Dr. Cheek was recently asked to edit and prepare for publication Calhoun’s classic A Disquisition on Government. It is considered one of the greatest works on the American political system.

John C. Calhoun, who was a member of the House (1811-17), secretary of war (1817-25), vice president (1825-32), Senator (1832-43, 1845-50) and secretary of state (1844-45), is also considered one of America’s most important political thinkers, explained Dr. Cheek.

The book, scheduled for release in July, will feature an introduction and a survey of scholarly literature related to Calhoun and the South, both written by Dr. Cheek. The book will be published by St. Augustine’s Press, a major source of outstanding scholarly works in the fields of philosophy, theology, and cultural and intellectual history.

According to the publisher, Bruce Fingerhut, the achievements of Dr. Cheek’s volume are clear.

“This volume provides the most economical and textually accurate version of Calhoun’s Disquisition available today,” said Fingerhut. “As a treatise, the Disquisition is one of the greatest and most enduring works of American political thought, and a treatise of seminal important to all students of American politics, history, and law.”

According to Dr. Cheek, “Calhoun believed he laid a ‘solid foundation for political science’ through revitalizing popular rule. To complete his theoretical and practical mission, Calhoun attempted to examine the best example of the diffusion of authority and cultivation of liberty: the American Constitution.”

“The fundamental law of the American republic provided, after all, the ‘interior structure’ for regulating the shape and scope of government.  As a guide for the states and the general government, the Constitution was also part of the ‘organism’ that limited the centralization of authority and allowed for genuine popular rule; and it was Calhoun's exposition of the connection between the moral demands of a properly constituted concept of popular rule and the need for practical ordering principles that is articulated in this great text,” Dr. Cheek adds.

Dr. Cheek suggests the book is relevant in today’s world because of “Calhoun’s attempts in theory and practice to reconcile the good of democracy with the ethical requirements necessary for democracy to survive—a struggle in which many nations are now engaged, despite the ethnic animosities threatening their destruction, in building post-ideological, civilized political and social orders—especially the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa.”

Dr. Cheek received his bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University, his M.Div. from Duke University, his M.P.A. from Western Carolina University, and his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.  Dr. Cheek taught at BPC from 1997-2000, and he rejoined the Brewton-Parker faculty in 2005.  In 2000, 2006, and 2007, Dr. Cheek was awarded BPC’s “Professor of the Year Award” by the student body. 

From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Cheek served as Associate Professor of Political Science at Lee University. In May of 2002, Dr. Cheek was given Lee University’s Excellence in Scholarship award; and in May of 2004, he received Lee University’s Excellence in Advising award. He has also served as a congressional aide and as a political consultant. 

Dr. Cheek’s other books include Political Philosophy and Cultural Renewal (Transaction/Rutgers, 2001, with Kathy B. Cheek); Calhoun and Popular Rule, published by the University of Missouri Press (2001; paper edition, 2004); Calhoun: Selected Speeches and Writings (Regnery, 2003); Order and Legitimacy (Transaction/Rutgers, 2004); and an critical edition of W. H. Mallock’s The Limits of Pure Democracy (Transaction/Rutgers, 2007). He has also published numerous journal articles in publications like the Journal of Politics, Methodist History, International Social Science Review, Hebraic Political Studies, and is a regular commentator on American politics.

Dr. Cheek’s current research includes completing an intellectual biography of Francis Graham Wilson, a study of the American Founding, and a book on Patrick Henry's constitutionalism and political theory. Dr. Cheek is also the founder and director of the Wesley Studies Society. He currently serves on the editorial board of Humanitas and The University Bookman, and has served as a Fellow of the Wilbur Foundation, the Center for Judicial Studies, and the Center for International Media Studies. 

Dr. Cheek lives in Vidalia with his wife, Kathy B. Cheek, who is the owner of the Savannah Conservatory of Dance, and an accomplished teacher and choreographer.



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Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM