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Donald Livingston is a professor of philosophy at Emory University with an "expertise in the writings of David Hume." Livingston received his doctorate at Washington University in 1965. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow and has been on the editorial board of Hume Studies and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. Livingston's books include Hume's Philosophy of Common Life and Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium.
Livingston has developed some renown as a constitutional scholar and is an expositor of the compact nature of the Union, with its concomitant doctrines of corporate resistance, nullification, and secession. Chris Hedges has called him "one of the intellectual godfathers of the secessionist movement." The doctrine coincides with federalism, states' rights, the principle of subsidiarity. His political philosophy embodies the decentralizing themes echoed by Europeans such as Althusius, David Hume, and Lord Acton and Americans such as Thomas Jefferson, Spencer Roane, Abel Parker Upshur, Robert Hayne and John Calhoun, which holds the community and family as the elemental units of political society. In Livingston's view, the compact theory of the Union is opposed to the innovative nationalist theory of James Madison, Joseph Story, Daniel Webster, and Abraham Lincoln which contends for an indivisible sovereignty, an inviolable aggregate people, and that the American Union created the States following the American War for Independence. This theory as articulated by Lincoln has been characterized by Livingston as "Lincoln's Spectacular Lie." 
In 1998, Livingston was instrumental in the founding of the Abbeville Institute. According to its website, the Institute is "an association of scholars in higher education devoted to a critical study of what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition".
Eugene Genovese's statement that "Rarely these days, even on Southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of white people in the South" has been adopted as a mission statement by the Abbeville Institute, although, unlike many of the Institute's current faculty, Genovese rejected the compatibility of market capitalism with the traditional morality he observed in studies of the South.
Its principal activities are a summer school for graduate students and an annual scholar's conference. It focuses particularly on issues of secession which are kept out of mainstream academia. The Institute is named for the South Carolina hometown of John Calhoun, and a pre-Civil War hotbed of secession.
Notable faculty include:
In January 2010, Livingstone told The New York Times the institute is a "way to discuss Southern topics misrepresented in today’s classrooms. Or, as Livingston puts it, to examine Southern tradition 'in terms of its own inner light' rather than 'as a function of the ideological needs of others.'"
- Graham, John Remington (2002). A Constitutional History of Secession. Foreword by Donald Livingston. Gretna, Louisiana, US: Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 1-58980-066-4.
- Bongie, Laurence; Livingston, Donald (2000). David Hume: Prophet of the Counter-Revolution. Indianapolis, Indiana, US: Liberty Fund. ISBN 0-86597-209-5.
- Livingston, Donald (1998). Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium. Hume's Pathology of Philosophy. Chicago, US: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-48717-2.
- Gregg, Gary L. (1999). Vital Remnants: America's Founding and the Western Tradition. Wilmington, Delaware, US: ISI Books. ISBN 1-882926-31-5.
- Emison, John Avery (2009). Lincoln Uber Alles: Dictatorship Comes to America. Back jacket comment by Donald Livingston and Clyde N. Wilson. Gretna, Louisiana, US: Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-58980-692-4.
- "Emory University Philosophy Department biography". emory.edu.[dead link]
- Chris Hedges (April 27, 2010). "The New Secessionists". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- DeCoster, Karen (April 29, 2002). "Lincoln's Spectacular Lie". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- Terris, Ben (2009–12–06) Scholars Nostalgic for the Old South Study the Virtues of Secession, Quietly, Chronicle of Higher Education
- "About". abbevilleinstitute.org. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- Chu, Jeff (June 26, 2005). "Loathing Abe Lincoln". Time.com. Time Warner.[dead link]
- Terris, Ben (December 6, 2009). "Scholars Nostalgic for the Old South Study the Virtues of Secession, Quietly". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- Terris, Ben (December 15, 2009). "Secession Studies, Out in the Open". nytimes.com. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved October 6, 2012.