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Donald Livingston is a professor of philosophy at Emory University with an "expertise in the writings of David Hume." He founded the Abbeville Institute in 2003, which is devoted to study of southern culture and political ideas.
Early life and education
Livingston was raised in South Carolina. He 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.
He supports the compact nature of the Union of the United States, 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, and 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. They hold 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. Livingston characterizes this as "Lincoln's Spectacular Lie." 
In 2003, Livingston was instrumental in founding 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". The Institute is named for the South Carolina hometown of US Senator John Calhoun, which was a pre-Civil War hotbed of secession.
The Institute adopted as part of its mission statement the following by historian Eugene Genovese: "Rarely these days, even on Southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of white people in the South;" he is a Marxist turned conservative. Heidi Beirich, research director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that the "idea that white people are America's underappreciated stepchildren is ludicrous."
In 2004, the SPLC characterized Livingston as a neo-Confederate "ideologue," in part for his connection with the League of the South. This identifies as 'the premier state sovereignty and secessionist organization;" it has been classified as a "hate group" by the SPLC. Livingston said that, although he helped the League set up an institute in the mid-1990s, he left them before 1999 over their support for secession.
As of 2009, the Abbeville Institute had a total of 64 associated scholars from various colleges and disciplines. It operates an annual summer school for graduate students and an annual scholars' conference. It focuses particularly on issues of secession, which its scholars believe is a topic excluded from mainstream academia. In 2010, it held a conference on secession and nullification.
Notable faculty include:
In January 2010, Livingston told The New York Times that 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.'"
The Abbeville Institute has developed a press, an Abbeville Institute Review, and a blog, all to communicate its scholars' work. It continues with its annual conferences; in October 2014, the 12th Annual Conference has the theme, “The Crisis of American National Identity and the Southern tradition.” It will be held at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
- Hume's Philosophy of Common Life (1984)
- Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium: Hume's Pathology of Philosophy (1998)
- 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]
- 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.
- 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.
- "About". abbevilleinstitute.org. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- Chu, Jeff (June 26, 2005). "Loathing Abe Lincoln". Time.com. Time Warner.[dead link]
- Terris, Ben (December 15, 2009). "Secession Studies, Out in the Open". nytimes.com. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved October 6, 2012.