But what I won't agree with, and its overblown inclusion in the above article festered as I read the whole thing is this:
...comprehend the Founding as well its fulfillment in Lincoln.
Now, stating that the Lincoln Presidency and all its impact was the Fulfullment of the Founding is simply diefication where it isn't warrented. Lincoln makes clear as much in the Greely letter and elsewhere. A man of his time, thrust into dealing with the Civil War by forces bigger than himself, making actions based on his stated motives, some of which had bad consequences he could not foresee for the Union that he held so paramount, does not make him and his actions the manifest destiny of the nation or its fulfillment with a Federal supremacy.
I can respect some contending that without a stronger Federal nature we couldn't have been as effective on the world stage in the 20th century...that's a reasonable claim and on a good day, might even get some grudging acceptance from me. But Fulfillment? For actions periferal to his overall battle? Hardly.
One can disagree with the pro-Confederacy revisionists without accepting the whole Jaffaite line. "Fulfillment" is in the eye of the beholder. We know what fulfillment is for a puppy or an acorn because we see what such things tend to become. Speaking of fulfillment for a national idea is much harder because such ideas are more individual: one can't look at a whole crop of Americas and say "This one fulfilled its potential. This one didn't. And this one has developed, but not fully matured." Because the nation is sui generis, one of a kind, too much is subjective in such assessments.
If one takes the founders as a seed, one can see ways in which their work was fulfilled in Lincoln. There are ways in which the 14th Amendment, however much it may have been misused in later years, did fulfill or complete Madison's Bill of Rights and ways in which Lincoln's work carried on Washington's and Hamilton's. On the other hand, one can also see a development down to the present that looks like a perversion of the original scheme or potential in the direction of centralization. And the Civil War was one of the turning points on the way to the present. I take issue with any view that sees Lincoln as a destroyer or perverter, because that's an overly melodramatic way of thinking about our history.
Certainly, any interpretation that makes the Confederates out simply and unambiguously to be defenders of the Constitution and the Founders is wrong on its face. One can recognize that some who joined the rebellion did retain some affection for the old Constitution and felt that the Constitution and Union having broken down they would fight for their own states. But the Confederate elites and the secessionist vanguards were no friends or defenders of the Constitution, though they utilized its protections to defend their interests. They fully desired to break with the union and the Constitution of 1787 and to establish a new nation of their own.
Whether one wants to see Lincoln as a "fullfillment" of the Founders' vision or simply someone trying to pick up the pieces in an unpleasant situation is another, even more complicated question. I lean towards the latter view on the whole. The problem with Jaffa's view is that all political leaders are apt to view themselves as fulfillments of the Founders's intentions. In the end, it's hard to make objective judgements about what those intentions were. Some such claims are manifestly false. All of the founders would be appalled by modern mass democracy, but most of the framers would be sceptical of state's rights absolutism. They'd seen its effects under the Articles of Confederation.
The Founders started us on a journey in which everything would appear new and unprecedented. Change is the great constant in our history. Looking back on that history we seize on this or that thread and call it a continuity. Often enough it is one, but other threads are broken with time.
The system shattered in 1860, and the country would have to recreate it as best as it could. Had the Confederates won their independence, we would equally have regarded 1860 as the end of the Old Republic and the grave of one strand of the Founders' wishes.
A transcription of the Cornerstone speech is here The Webmaster notes on another page:
"On March 21, 1861, Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens, of Georgia, gave an extemporaneous speech at the Atheneum in Savannah. No "official" version of the speech exists, but it was transcribed by several newspaper reporters and printed in several newspapers.
So a good project for someone with time and inclination would be to track down which newspapers it appeared in, how the different transciptions read, and what the politics of the different papers was. Stephens wouldn't be the first politician to disremember what he said before reporters.
As opposed to those times where deification is warranted.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.