Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Robert Lewis Dabney: A Prophet for Our Own Times


A number of years ago I became interested in the writings of the great Southern author and philosopher Robert Lewis Dabney (d. 1898). Dabney, if he is much known at all these days, is famous because he was chaplain to Confederate general, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and because he penned a Life of General Thomas J. Jackson (1866) and then for his famous apologia for the old South, A Defense of Virginia, and Through Her, of the South (1867). The great Southern scholar Richard Weaver discusses Dabney briefly in his masterful volume, The Southern Tradition at Bay (edited and published in 1968, and republished since then), and it is there that more recent interest in Dabney has its origin.

During my graduate studies at the University of Virginia I prepared a paper on Dabney; and since then, I have re-written it and had it published several times in different publications and in different formats. It has seen the light of day in the old Southern Partisan magazine, in The Southern Mercury, on the Communities Digital News web site, at The Unz Review, and most recently, on The Abbeville Institute.

In it, I spend some time examining Dabney’s withering criticism of public education and the public schools—that was back in the 1880s!

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