Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
At an event on Friday sponsored by the AEI Program on American Citizenship in celebration of George Washington’s birthday, leading American political thinkers came together to discuss Washington’s presidency and the importance to the nation of having a time set apart to remember and appreciate its founders. After an introduction by Amy A. Kass (Hudson Institute), Leon R. Kass (AEI) read excerpts from George Washington’s “Farewell Address.” Diana Schaub (Loyola University Maryland) commented on the address, paying special attention to the importance of Washington’s efforts to strengthen and educate public sentiment among his fellow Americans toward taking part in their own governance. Richard Brookhiser (National Review) spoke about Washington’s extraordinary achievements as America’s first president — setting precedent for all future presidents, navigating the tumultuous politics of his administration and, perhaps most important, voluntarily leaving office and retiring to Mt. Vernon at the conclusion of his second term. Harvey Mansfield (Harvard University) discussed the unique nature of the office of the presidency and Washington’s role in it and noted that it is essential to the perpetuation of our political institutions that Americans take time to study and revere great leaders like Washington and Abraham Lincoln. In drawing modern lessons from Washington’s presidency, Steven F. Hayward (AEI) argued that modern presidents could learn from Washington’s deference to the Constitution in deciding the roles and responsibilities of the office.
Head over to the event page to watch clips and the full video of Friday’s event.