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Event Alert!: 2018 Walter Berns Annual Constitution Day Lecture with Diana Schaub

While the American political order is uniquely friendly to scientific advancement — as evidenced by the Constitution’s patent and copyright clause — many of the founders were also aware of the morally ambiguous character of the scientific quest. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all thought about science’s proper place in American life, but Abraham Lincoln’s “Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions” is arguably the most sustained treatment by an American statesman of the connections between scientific inquiry, human nature, and the fate of freedom.

Please join AEI for the seventh annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture, as Diana J. Schaub, professor of political science at Loyola University Maryland and visiting professor at Harvard University, traces how and why American statesmen deliberated about the intersection of science with moral and political questions.

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Frederick Douglass on Lincoln and Emancipation

Before the Emancipation Proclamation, Frederick Douglass had been fiercely critical of Lincoln. But after Lincoln’s death, Douglass spoke appreciatively of Lincoln, praising his statesmanship in preserving the Union and emancipating slaves.

In this video, Diana Schaub, professor of political science at Loyola University-Maryland and Lucas Morel, professor of politics at Washington and Lee University, discuss in particular the April 14, 1876 speech Douglass delivered on the occasion of the dedication of the Freedmen’s Monument, which was the nation’s first statue of the slain president. Arguing that Lincoln had two goals in the recently ended war–to preserve the Union, and to emancipate the slaves–Douglass said that “but for the former, [Lincoln] could not do that latter.”

As Professor Morel notes, Frederick Douglass made a larger point to his audience and the nation about Lincoln’s statesmanship: Douglass used his oration to educate not just whites but blacks in terms of how politics could, and should, be done in a noble way.

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Washington: The Classical City

Last June, the Program on American Citizenship teamed with the National Civic Art Society to present a panel discussion on the important role that memorials play in civic life, using the recent controversies over the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the proposed Eisenhower Memorial to guide the conversation. You can watch the full discussion between panelists Michael J. Lewis (Williams College), Roger Scruton (AEI), Bruce Cole (Hudson Institute) and Diana Schaub (Loyola University Maryland) here. In the January 17th issue of the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse, the National Civic Art Society continued the conversation.

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Reminder: Come celebrate George Washington’s birthday with us

Calling all our friends in the Washington, D.C. area: this Friday, we will be celebrating George Washington’s birthday with a panel discussion at AEI. The event, which is open to the public, is titled “First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency,” and will feature an introduction by Amy A. Kass (Hudson Institute), a reading from George Washington’s Farewell Address by Leon R. Kass (AEI), and remarks by Diana Schaub (Loyola University Maryland), Richard Brookhiser (National Review), Harvey Mansfield (Harvard University), and Steven F. Hayward (AEI).

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2011 Top books for citizenship

Inspired by our friends at NCoC and the Claremont Institute, the Program thought it would try its hand at a best-of-the-year list for books on citizenship:

  • What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, edited by Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub. An anthology of 74 great American short stories, speeches, and songs. Reacquaint yourself with classics, both old and new, with selections by Jack London, Edward Everett Hale, Frederick Douglass, Ring Lardner, O. Henry, Flannery O’Connor, and many more.
  • Conserving Liberty by Mark Blitz. A spirited defense of American civic virtue. Claremont McKenna College professor Mark Blitz reminds us that individual liberty alone cannot produce happiness. To secure our rights and use them successfully, we need certain virtues: responsibility, toleration, individual excellence, and self-government.
  • Teaching America: The Case for Civic Education. Editor David Feith lines up a cast of civic-minded all-stars–Rick Hess (AEI), Peter Levine (CIRCLE), Bruce Cole (Hudson Institute), and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor–to argue for reinvigorating civic education in our nation’s schools. Look for great things to come as Feith launches the Civic Education Initiative with top charter network Democracy Prep Public Schools.
  • Failing Liberty 101: How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared for Citizenship in a Free Society. Another fine volume on the importance of civic education by noted scholar William Damon. Damon was moved to write Failing Liberty after interviewing American high-school students about what U.S. citizenship meant to them. The results, as described in this book, are deeply troubling, raising “the very real possibility that our democracy will be left in the hands of a citizenry unprepared to govern it and unwilling the make the sacrifices needed to preserve it.”
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Noemie Emery on the importance of a national character

In the Washington Examiner, Noemie Emery provides a good reminder of the importance of the American national character in celebration of Independence Day:

“Who are we?” ask Leon Kass, Amy Kass and Diana Schaub at the start of “What So Proudly We Hail,” their anthology of works about the American character.

“How do we identify ourselves? … What larger community and ideals are we willing to fight and to sacrifice? … What do we look up to and revere?” they ask.

She continues:

National character, says Michael Novak, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, makes a tangible entity out of a mob. “A mob is composed of a multitude of atomized individuals,” he tells us.

“A people is composed of persons who have social identity … a communion of souls” reaching back to antiquity, and looking ahead to the prospect of still greater things. This identity also has its own character….

Longings for freedom are indeed universal, but in 1776 they were embodied in a particular nation that fought for them in a particular war, embedded them in a unique form of government and fought for them in the last century in three brutal wars.

American exceptionalism does not mean Americans are better than others, that their record is spotless, that they never fail, falter or stray. It means Americans’ works in the interests of freedom are unique and unequaled. May they remain so.

Read the whole column.

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“Why Memorial Day?” A Book Forum with Senator John McCain

Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Time: 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Location: AEI, Twelfth Floor
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 2

REGISTER ONLINE: http://www.aei.org/event/100418.

American public life requires citizens who know who they are as Americans, who are knowledgeably attached to their country and communities, and who possess the character–the attitudes, sensibilities, and virtues–necessary for robust civic participation. What So Proudly We Hail, edited by Amy and Leon Kass and Diana Schaub, seeks to help form such citizens, using the soul-shaping possibilities of American short stories, political speeches, and songs. Making citizens, like building character generally, requires educating the moral imagination and sentiments, and developing fitting habits of the heart–matters both displayed in and nurtured by our great works of imaginative literature and rhetoric. The readings collected in What So Proudly We Hail shed light on our civic character and ways, encourage thoughtful patriotic attachment, and elicit timeless aspirations for civic improvement–always with an eye on our founding commitment to freedom and equality.

Several selections in the anthology deal with the importance of civic holidays for the perpetuation of our institutions and the attachment of our citizens. This forum will introduce the book with a discussion of the meaning and importance of Memorial Day, a holiday first instituted to honor those who died in the Civil War defending the Union. The point of departure for our discussion will be a reading of “In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire,” by Civil War veteran and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., delivered as a defense of Memorial Day on May 30, 1884. Panelists will then discuss the speech and the meaning of Memorial Day today.

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True Americanism

Yesterday, National Affairs magazine and the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal co-hosted the annual Bradley Symposium—an event devoted to a wonderful new anthology, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, edited by our own Leon Kass, his wife Amy, and Diana Schaub of Loyola College.

Joining Leon, Amy, and Diana to discuss a selection from the reader – Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, “True Americanism” – were a panel of luminaries: Harvey Mansfield, Charles Krauthammer, Robert P. George, Wilfred McClay, Senator Lamar Alexander, Daniel Henninger, Frank Hanna, Paul E. Singer, and Juan Williams.

The resulting discussion was lively and engaging as panelists hashed out questions of national identity, the American character, the role of civic education, and the virtues and aspirations of civic life. If you were unlucky enough to have missed it, you can watch it all at the link or after the jump.

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Register now: 2011 Bradley Symposium

In an age of increasing cultural diversity at home and of increasing globalization abroad, questions are being agitated about what it means today to be an American. How, in fact, do we identify ourselves, both as individuals and as a people? What do we look up to and revere? To what larger community and ideals are we attached and devoted? For what are we willing to fight and to sacrifice?

A new anthology, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, edited by Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub, speaks directly to these questions. Using the soul-shaping possibilities of American short stories, political speeches, and songs, it addresses issues of national identity, the American character, the virtues and aspirations of civic life, and the problem of making a national one out of the multicultural many. The chapter devoted to the last subject contains a moving speech by Theodore Roosevelt, which powerfully argues that all new immigrants must be assimilated into the idea and practice of “True Americanism.” This symposium will revisit Theodore Roosevelt’s speech and the issues it raises. What, if anything, defines “True Americanism” today? Why and for what purposes does it matter?

The 2011 Bradley Symposium, hosted by Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and National Affairs, will feature a discussion among prominent political figures and scholars, led by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Amy Kass and AEI Madden-Jewett Scholar Leon Kass.

Register online for the event, featuring Charles Krauthammer, Juan Williams, Wilfred McClay, and Robert P. George.

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WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAIL

American life requires citizens who know who they are as Americans, who are knowledgably attached to their country and communities, and who possess the character—the attitudes, sensibilities, and virtues—necessary for robust civic participation. What So Proudly We Hail: Stories for Every American—an anthology edited by Leon R. Kass (AEI), Amy A. Kass (Hudson Institute), and Diana Schaub (Loyola University Maryland); ISI Books, Spring 2011— seeks to help form such citizens, using the soul-shaping possibilities of American short stories, political speeches, and patriotic songs.

Unlike other efforts to improve civic literacy and civic virtue, this approach assumes that developing robust American citizens is a matter of the heart as well as the mind, and requires more than approving our lofty principles or knowing our history and institutions. Like building character generally, making citizens requires educating the moral imagination and sentiments, and developing fitting habits of the heart—matters both displayed in and nurtured by our great works of imaginative literature and rhetoric. The readings collected in this anthology shed light on our civic character and ways, encourage thoughtful patriotic attachment, and elicit timeless aspirations for civic improvement—always with an eye on our founding commitment to freedom and equality.

PAST EVENTS

“First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency,” February 17, 2012. This event will open with a reading of portions of George Washington’s Farewell Address, a selection from the anthology. A distinguished panel will then discuss Washington’s exemplary founding presidency, its lessons for the modern presidency (as well as for today’s aspiring presidential candidates), and the importance of preserving and perpetuating our political institutions.

“Why Memorial Day?” A Book Forum with Senator John McCain, May 25, 2011. Several selections in the anthology deal with the importance of civic holidays for the perpetuation of our institutions and the attachment of our citizens. This forum will introduce the book with a discussion of the meaning and importance of Memorial Day, a holiday first instituted to honor those who died in the Civil War defending the Union.

The point of departure for our discussion will be a reading of “In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire,” by Civil War veteran and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., delivered as a defense of Memorial Day on May 30, 1884. Panelists will then discuss the speech and the meaning of Memorial Day today.

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Amy Kass, Friend and Teacher

August 21, 2015 | AEIdeas This week saw the passing of Amy Kass, longtime friend to AEI, wife of AEI scholar Leon Kass, and advocate for civic and American history education. We  pause to remember her and her inspiring and loving teaching.  Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow and Research Coordinator:  Though Amy Kass was not formally […]

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Lincoln and the Reframing of America

Session 4: Lincoln and the Reframing of America (with Allen Guelzo and Michael Zuckert) What tasks must a republic—a system of government based on popular rule—fulfill to be and to remain healthy and successful? What is the greater challenge of statesmanship—founding a new political order, or maintaining and preserving one? “Lincoln and the Reframing of […]

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Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address

Session 3: Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address (with Leon Kass) What is the significance of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address? Is it a funeral oration, a victory speech, a policy pitch, or something more? Was Lincoln’s purpose to break with a tainted national past, or to redefine it? “Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address” will explore […]

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Lincoln, Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief

Session 2: Lincoln, Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief (with Ben Kleinerman and Makubin Owens) What obligations and powers do American presidents have to protect and preserve both the nation and its political institutions? How should presidents understand their duty both to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” and to “preserve, protect and defend the […]

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Lincoln and the Slavery Question

Session 1: Lincoln and the Slavery Question (with Lucas Morel) Is the rule of the majority the heart of democracy? Or must the will of the majority be tempered by other considerations to fulfill the requirements of just government? Was the slavery question a territorial, political, racial, or moral question—or all combined? “Abraham Lincoln and […]

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Lincoln and the Constitution

How ought Americans to understand what rule “of the people, by the people, and for the people” means? Is American democracy characterized by the rule of the majority, understood as popular sovereignty, or is majority rule qualified by some other constitutional principle? “Lincoln and the Constitution” will explore the challenges to popular government raised in […]

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Celebrating Lincoln, Black History Month, and Our Constitutional History

February fittingly combines a celebration of two of America’s greatest presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, with a celebration of Black Americans’ achievements and contributions to the nation. America’s exceptional constitutional history to a large degree has been shaped and refined by its 1st and its 16th presidents, both in how they responded to the question of slavery but also in how they approached the office of the presidency during a tumultuous era.

Until 1971, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 was its own federal holiday. (Now his, and George Washington’s February 22 birthday are publicly observed on President’s Day, the third Monday in February). In honor of Lincoln’s 206th birthday, take a look at the links below to learn more about the continued relevancy of Lincoln in the modern world, how Frederick Douglass thought about Lincoln and his role in emancipation, and how America’s Founders dealt with the slavery controversy while crafting the Constitution.

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Scared straight into the voting booth

Over at The New York Times‘s “Campaign Stops” blog, Ann Beeson, a lecturer at the University of Texas and former legal director of the ACLU, notices that many young people are very involved in different civic organizations, but that few of them actually vote.

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Doing right by Ike

In the last few weeks, The Weekly Standard has published two articles discussing Dwight D. Eisenhower and the proposed memorial in honor of him, designed by architect Frank Gehry.

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Monumental Fights: The Role of Memorials in Civic Life

Over the past year, the recently dedicated Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Memorial and the planned Eisenhower Memorial have renewed controversy about the meaning and purpose of public memorials. What do America’s memorials and monuments tell us about our nation and our identity as citizens? How should we memorialize past events and individuals?

At an event on Friday, May 18, 2012, that was co-sponsored by AEI’s Program on American Citizenship and theNational Civic Art Society, a distinguished panel discussed the important role of public memorials in civic life, using the recent controversies over the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Memorial and the proposed Eisenhower Memorial to guide the conversation.

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