Statement of Robert P. George, Director of the James Madison Program, on the death of George P. Shultz ’42

February 9, 2021

The James Madison Program family is saddened by news of the death of George P. Shultz, one of our nation's most distinguished public servants. Secretary Shultz held four cabinet posts, serving in the administrations of three presidents. He died two months after celebrating his 100th birthday.

I had the privilege of knowing Secretary Shultz as a friend. He was a famously devoted alumnus of Princeton University and an early and enthusiastic booster of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. Our Program awarded him its highest honor, the John Witherspoon Medal for Distinguished Statesmanship, in 2002.

Shultz was a loyal member of his political party—the Republican Party—but not a highly partisan one. He would break ranks with the leadership of his Party when he disagreed, and was always willing to work with Democrats and others to advance shared goals, such as the goal of deterring Soviet aggression in the Cold War.

After combat service in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, Shultz earned a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before entering public service—eventually becoming U.S. Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan—he served as a professor and as Dean of the Business School of the University of Chicago.

At his core, George Pratt Shultz was a patriot—in the old-fashioned sense of the word. He should be remembered above all for that. He served his country, first as a marine and then in many other ways, because he loved his country. He loved it because it was his, to be sure, as all patriots do; but he also loved it for its ideals and its institutions—ideals and institutions that he thought were profoundly good. Of course, people will try to fit him into contemporary categories, or under contemporary labels ("nationalist," "globalist," etc.), but the labels will mislead. The one that won't mislead is simply: American patriot.

 On behalf of the James Madison Program, I send deepest condolences to Charlotte and the Shultz family. May he rest in peace.