On 10 April, the AHI launched its inaugural fundraising event at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. John Stauffer, Professor of English, American Literature, and Language at Harvard University, provided the keynote address that preceded an innovative two-day colloquium on the meaning of freedom.
The success of the AHI’s inaugural colloquium has yielded a stunning result: An attending philanthropist (who wishes to remain anonymous) has informed the founders of his intention to commit to the AHI $100,000 per year for the next five years and has encouraged us to seek matching funds.
The AHI’s board of directors will be formalizing their response to this challenge in the days ahead. From people of good will who are interested in watering our seed of educational reform, we now seek your support. The AHI has tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code, and our website provides instructions on how you can help as well news about incentives for those who wish to donate at various levels.
Our inaugural colloquium, “Liberty and Slavery: The Civil War between Gerrit Smith and George Fitzhugh,” integrated three undergraduate classes—from Harvard University, Colgate University, and Hamilton College—into an intensive conversation with a diverse group of fifteen academics and informed citizens. They included a judge, a museum curator, a Methodist minister, an award-winning high-school teacher as well as some of the most influential historians of their generation. The result exceeded the ample expectations of the AHI’s founders. Professor Stauffer called the event “one of the highlights of his career, if not the highlight.” Tim McCarthy, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, informed one of the founders of the AHI a week after the event, “My students are still talking about it!” A Hamilton College alumnus and his wife attended all the events and commented, “The colloquium proved to be intellectually stimulating almost to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.” Elizabeth Farrington, one of the undergraduate participants, thanked the founders for “the opportunity that the colloquium afforded us. That was really unprecedented in my educational experience, and I don’t expect to encounter anything like it again.” Video of the opening night’s events and audio of the colloquium’s six sessions are now available on the AHI’s website for examination by interested parties.
Year two of the AHI’s existence will be devoted to the subject of property rights. For April, 2009, AHI co-founder James Bradfield is designing a colloquium that will focus on the meaning of capitalism, the relation of private property to freedom and economic development, and the use and abuse of the power of eminent domain. Our programming for 2008-2009 will begin on 17 September, Constitution Day. We have invited the Honorable Jeffrey Sutton, federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, to present a public lecture on Constitutional jurisprudence.
We encourage interested parties to visit the “News & Events” page of our website for updates about the rich menu of activities in planning by the founders and fellows of the AHI. “In history,” asserted Edmund Burke, one of Western culture’s greatest statesmen, “a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.” With your support, the AHI hopes to make a seminal contribution to that future wisdom on which the fate of a great civilization may ultimately rest.