Indelible Legacy: The Indispensable, Uncancelable Statesmanship of George Washington

An Alpheus T. Mason Lecture on Constitutional Law and Political Thought: The Quest for Freedom

November 13, 2020
poster for George Washington event

William Allen, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Michigan State University, and Paul O. Carrese, Director, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University

Moderated by Diana Schaub, Visiting Professor, Harvard University; Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Maryland

When George Washington died in December 1799, his comrade in arms in the Revolution, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, eulogized the great general and president in the House of Representatives, describing him as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” If anything, such words were a restrained expression of American sentiment, for Washington was the one man of whom it could be said that the United States of America owed its very existence to him. Indeed, he was a world-historical figure, renowned even in the country from which we had won our independence for his virtue, his statesmanship, and above all his self-abnegation in twice relinquishing power willingly and peacefully.  Today, statues and monuments of George Washington are under siege, chiefly because of his ownership of slaves. Does he in fact still deserve the honor and veneration of his countrymen?  What sort of man was Washington, and what qualities in him made his achievements possible? Can those achievements be separated from his record as a slaveholder and as an ambitious man of affairs? What can we say of George Washington entire?

William B. Allen is Professor Emeritus of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Dean Emeritus of James Madison College at Michigan State University. He was the University of Colorado’s 2018-19 Benson Center Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy and a Senior Scholar in Residence for 2019-20. He was previously the Ann & Herbert W. Vaughan Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program on American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University and Visiting Senior Scholar in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University. He also served previously on the National Council for the Humanities and as Chairman and Member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has published extensively, including George Washington: America’s First Progressive (Peter Lang, Inc.) and Re-Thinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of H. B. Stowe (Lexington Books). He received his B.A. from Pepperdine College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School.

Paul Carrese is the founding Director of the School of Civic & Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, a “Great Books” department oriented to leadership and public service. For two decades, he was professor of Political Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he co-founded and directed the Academy’s “Great Books” honors program. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, a Fulbright Fellow at University of Delhi, and a Forbes Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton University in 2012-13. He is author of The Cloaking of Power: Montesquieu, Blackstone, and the Rise of Judicial Activism (Chicago, 2003, 2013), and Democracy in Moderation: Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and Sustainable Liberalism (Cambridge, 2016). He co-edited John Marshall’s The Life of George Washington (Liberty Fund, 2001); Constitutionalism, Executive Power, and the Spirit of Moderation (SUNY, 2016); and American Grand Strategy: War, Justice, and Peace in American Political Thought (Johns Hopkins, anticipated 2021). Professor Carrese holds two Master’s degrees from Oxford University, one in Politics and Philosophy and another in Theology, and received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston College.

Diana Schaub is Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Maryland and Visiting Professor at Harvard University. A past member of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on the Virtues of a Free Society, she also served as the Garwood Teaching Fellow at Princeton University in 2011-12 and Visiting Professor of Political Theory in the Government Department at Harvard University in 2018. From 2004 to 2009 she was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. She was the recipient of the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters in 2001 and is the author of Erotic Liberalism: Women and Revolution in Montesquieu’s “Persian Letters” (1995), along with numerous book chapters and scholarly articles in the fields of political philosophy and American political thought. She is a coeditor (with Amy and Leon Kass) of What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song (2011). Her monograph, Emancipating the Mind: Lincoln, the Founders, and Scientific Progress (2018), is based on her remarks at the 2018 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture. She is a contributing editor of The New Atlantis and a member of the publication committee of National Affairs. Her essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications, among them the Claremont Review of BooksCity JournalThe New Criterion, and Commentary, as well as the Weekly Standard and Public Interest. Professor Schaub is a graduate of Kenyon College and the University of Chicago. 

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Indelible Legacy: The Indispensable, Uncancelable Statesmanship of George Washington

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Zoom Webinar