On President’s Day, Dr. Steve Ealy, Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund, a non-profit organization “devoted to the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals,” visited the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) to speak to two audiences.
In the afternoon, he spoke with a class of twenty-six students about Publius, the Federalist, and the meaning of the Constitution. Students had prepared for Dr. Ealy’s visit by reading his essay in History on Proper Principles (ISI Books, 2010), a festschrift dedicated to Forrest McDonald, one of the most distinguished historians of his generation. In his essay, Dr. Ealy speaks of the Constitution as a “crossroads” document and asks whether it contains a substantive political philosophy. In Federalist #37, 78, and 82, he observes, Publius speaks of how the meaning of the Constitution will be “liquidated,” by which Publius meant adding clarity to equivocal and ambiguous language contained within the document. Dr. Ealy integrated into his discussion James Madison’s letter of October 17, 1788 to Thomas Jefferson. In it, Madison discusses his thinking on the Bill of Rights and the limits of any “parchment barriers” to oppression if the spirit of the people becomes corrupted.
Later that evening, Dr. Ealy met a select group of AHI Undergraduate Fellows who were interested in learning about the history of Liberty Fund and the opportunities presented by the organization. Founded in 1960 by Pierre Goodrich, a wealthy lawyer and businessman, Liberty Fund ranks as one of this country’s most distinguished private educational organizations. It publishes books, holds more than one hundred conferences annually, and provides a variety of educational resources. In 2011, the AHI was gifted with an assortment of books and DVDs as part of the Fund’s book placement program to encourage the study of liberty.
“Having taught for sixteen years before joining Liberty Fund,” Dr. Ealy remarked, “it’s always enjoyable to return to a college environment for a few days. It’s a real pleasure, however, when I encounter thoughtful students who are capable and willing to master important material and interested in a serious discussion of ideas, as was the case on my recent visit to AHI. I enjoyed meeting with Professor Paquette’s class on the history of American Conservatism and responding to intelligent questions and comments. The dinner at AHI headquarters gave me the chance to talk informally with a number of students and learn of their projects. One student was preparing to make a presentation on Bertrand de Jouvenel for a conference at Georgetown University, but everybody seemed to have interesting projects and class assignments. This visit reinforced my impressions from a few years ago when I was discussion leader for the 2010 Menges Colloquium–AHI is an important institution and it attracts both first-rate students and professors.”
The AHI thanks Dr. Ealy for his presence and the high quality of his conversation.
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