First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency
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About This Event

Post-Event Summary
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.  

--Barrett Bowdre

Event Description
The third Monday in February has come to be known—wrongly—as Presidents’ Day, an annual excuse for a three-day weekend and big-ticket sales. In one of a series of events and conversations about the meaning of the American calendar, Amy A. Kass (Hudson Institute) and Leon R. Kass (AEI) seek to restore America's fading national memory with a celebration of the holiday by its original and proper name: Washington's Birthday.

This event will open with a reading of portions of George Washington's Farewell Address, a selection from the anthology “What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song” (ISI Books, 2011). 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.

 

 

Agenda

11:45 AM
Registration

12:00 PM
Introduction:
AMY A. KASS, Hudson Institute

Reading of the Farewell Address:
LEON R. KASS, AEI

Panelists:
DIANA SCHAUB, Loyola University Maryland
RICHARD BROOKHISER, National Review
HARVEY MANSFIELD, Harvard University
STEVEN F. HAYWARD, AEI

Moderator:
LEON R. KASS, AEI

1:30 PM
Adjournment

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Barrett Bowdre at [email protected], 202.862.5946.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor at National Review, a position he has held since 1979. His first article, which described antiwar protests in his high school, was a cover story in National Review in 1970, when he was 15. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Observer, Cosmopolitan, Commentary, American History and Vanity Fair, among others. Mr. Brookhiser is the author of nine books, including "Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington," "George Washington on Leadership," "What Would the Founders Do?" and, most recently, "James Madison."

Steven F. Hayward is the F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow in environmental studies at AEI and a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He is also an adjunct fellow at the John Ashbrook Center and a former Bradley Fellow at Heritage Foundation. Mr. Hayward has written biographies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill, and is the author of "Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders" and, most recently, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Wilson to Obama." 

Amy A. Kass is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, senior lecturer emerita in the humanities at the University of Chicago, and co-editor of "What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song." For nearly 40 years, she has been an award-winning teacher of classic texts. Ms. Kass was the founding director of the nationwide Tocqueville Seminars on Civic Leadership and, more recently, the nationwide Dialogues on Civic Philanthropy. She has served on the National Council on the Humanities for the National Endowment for the Humanities and as a consultant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Ms. Kass is an adviser to Civic Enterprises and the National Conference on Citizenship and a member of the board of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is the author of numerous articles and the editor or co-editor of four anthologies: "American Lives: Cultural Differences, Individual Distinction," "Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying" (with Leon R. Kass), "The Perfect Gift: The Philanthropic Imagination in Poetry and Prose," and "Giving Well, Doing Good: Readings for Thoughtful Philanthropists."

Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Madden-Jewett Scholar at AEI, Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and co-editor of "What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song." Dr. Kass taught at St. John’s College (Annapolis) and Georgetown University before returning in 1976 to the University of Chicago, where he was until 2010 an award-winning teacher deeply involved in undergraduate education and committed to the study of classic texts. With his wife, Amy A. Kass, he helped found a still-popular core humanities course, Human Being and Citizen, and a degree-granting major, Fundamentals: Issues and Texts, emphasizing big questions and great books. His books include "The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature," "Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying" (with Amy A. Kass), "Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics," and "The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis." Dr. Kass served on the National Council on the Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities and delivered its Jefferson Lecture in 2009. From 2001 to 2005, he was chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics.

Harvey Mansfield is the William R. Kenan Jr. professor of government at Harvard University, where he studies and teaches political philosophy. He is known for his writings on Edmund Burke and the nature of political parties, on Machiavelli and the invention of indirect government, and on traditional liberalism and constitutional American political science. His work also includes studies on the discovery and development of the theory of executive power, three translations of Machiavelli, and a translation of Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." He has won the Joseph R. Levenson Award for his teaching at Harvard, received the Sidney Hook Memorial Award from the National Association of Scholars, and in 2004 accepted a National Humanities Medal from the president.

Diana Schaub is professor of political science at Loyola University Maryland and co-editor of "What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song." A member of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on the Virtues of a Free Society, she is the 2011–2012 Garwood Teaching Fellow at Princeton University, where she recently taught a course on American statesmanship. She is the author of "Erotic Liberalism: Women and Revolution in Montesquieu’s 'Persian Letters'"; a number of book chapters and articles on political philosophy and the thought of the Founders and Abraham Lincoln; and several literary and political essays appearing in the Claremont Review of Books, the New Criterion, the Public Interest, Commentary, First Things, the American Interest, and City Journal, among others. Ms. Schaub is a contributing editor to the New Atlantis and a member of the publication committee of National Affairs. In 2001, she received the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters.

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Steven F.
Hayward
  • Steven F. Hayward was previously the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at AEI. He is the author of the Almanac of Environmental Trends, and the author of many books on environmental topics. He has written biographies of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and of Winston Churchill, and the upcoming book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents. He contributed to AEI's Energy and Environment Outlook series. 

 

Leon R.
Kass
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