Every time I teach a course or give a talk on the seemingly irresistible rise of Progressivism in the early twentieth century, a dismayed student inevitably asks whether anyone at the time spoke out in defense of the Constitution and the principles of the American Founding. The answer, of course, is "yes," but with little sustained success. Still, Jonathan O'Neill has provided a very useful account of these "First Conservatives" in a recent Heritage Foundation First Principles essay. O'Neill summarizes the anti-Progressive arguments of Irving Babbitt, Frank L. Owsley, and Albert Jay Nock and their contributions to later forms of Conservatism and Libertarianism, but also identifies their common defect - a rejection of the natural rights doctrine of the American Founding. There were some Conservatives, however, such as David Jayne Hill and Elihu Root, who offered a more principled opposition to Progressivism. Hill was a founder of the National Association for Constitutional Government, which published The Constitutional Review, distributed pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, and even persuaded the American Bar Association "to help lawyers communicate constitutional principles to popular audiences at the local level." Unlike many other Conservatives at the time, the NACG defended the Constitution on the grounds that it was essential for the security of natural rights. In the work of the NACG and others, O'Neill identifies a useful model for the modern Conservative opposition to Liberal Progressivism. Definitely worth a careful read.