The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) celebrated its thirteenth anniversary on Constitution Day, September 17. It marked the ninetieth birthday of Carl B. Menges, a charter member of AHI’s board of directors. More than two decades ago, Mr. Menges invited Robert Paquette, a Hamilton College historian, to lunch at the building that now serves as AHI headquarters. Out of their conversation emerged a plan to establish a special educational center named after one of this country’s most important founders.
As evidence of how far AHI has come in little more than a decade, AHI Resident Fellow Mary Grabar, author of the bestselling Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America (Regnery, 2019) was invited to the White House to participate in the first ever White House conference on American History. Dr. Grabar discussed the insidious influence of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (1980) on the teaching of American history to young people.
“It was a great honor to be invited the White House Conference on American History and to be in the company of such distinguished colleagues,” Dr. Grabar observed. “As I sat in the rotunda of the National Archives, I was gratified to hear a President of the United States finally recognize the harmful effects of radical education in our schools. It has been a message I had been trying to get out since I started graduate school and teaching in the 1990s. President Trump was absolutely correct in stating that today’s ‘left-wing rioting and mayhem’ are the result of ‘decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.’ I was even more gratified to hear President Trump name Howard Zinn as a culprit when he stated, ‘Our children are instructed from propaganda tracts, like those of Howard Zinn, that try to make students ashamed of their own history.’ I shall be ever grateful to the AHI for giving me the space and support to write my book Debunking Howard Zinn that exposes Zinn’s fraudulent history. Together we got the attention of the President of the United States! That’s quite an accomplishment. May all our efforts turn the tide and make American education great again.”
Also on Constitution Day, AHI President Robert Paquette delivered the feature lecture “What Made American Slavery Distinctive” at a national webinar, “Slavery or Freedom: The Conception of America,” co-sponsored by AHI, the National Association of Scholars, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Paquette, a prize-winning historian who specializes in the history of slavery, described his lecture as an attempt to contextualize, broadly and deeply, the origins of slavery in the Americas in light of the controversy generated by the New York Times 1619 Project. “The history presented throughout the 1619 Project,” Paquette concluded, “smacks of undue present-mindedness, of judgments made without a deep understanding of historical context and against standards the founders and other historical actors, given the limits of their intellectual and moral horizon, could not possible have had.”
Although the Covid pandemic prevented AHI from hosting on Constitution Day the Thirteenth Annual David Aldrich Nelson Lecture on Constitutional Jurisprudence, a special video is now in production that will honor Judge Nelson (1932-2010), a charter member of AHI’s board of directors. AHI Resident Fellow David Frisk will speak on “”The Constitution and America’s Red-Blue Divide.” According to Dr. Frisk, “the lecture will feature a discussion of how the Right and the Left tend to view the Constitution and its proper interpretation. It will also include a closely related introduction to the political theorist Willmoore Kendall’s concerns about what he saw as major misunderstandings of the Bill of Rights—a part of the Constitution that has occasioned much contentiousness in our public life.” Once completed, the video will be posted on YouTube. Dr. Frisk is completing a major intellectual biography, to be published by Encounter Books, on this child prodigy, who became one the United States most brilliant political theorists.