November 20, 2013

A Message from the President:

The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) is nearing the end of another very successful year.  We have extended our programming, reached new audiences, added outstanding teachers and scholars to our list of fellows and advisors, and embarked on a variety of new initiatives.  The AHI now sponsors educational activities coast to coast. Our goal remains to promote a genuinely free marketplace of ideas.  But challenges to what we do remain formidable. Evidence of a lack of intellectual diversity on college and university campuses and of growing threats there to the free exchange of ideas proves incontrovertible.  We will be sending you the AHI’s formal annual report in January.  With this letter, we hope to provide you with a taste of what we have done to fulfill our mission and to ask for your continued financial support.

During 2013 the AHI engaged hundreds of students on multiple campuses. Although our programming has focused on reaching out to students at Hamilton College, AHI-sponsored activities in 2013 have taken place at Texas A&M University, Skidmore College, Colgate University, Utica College, the University of Rochester, and in independent venues as far away as Los Angeles. Hundreds of adults from upstate New York have also attended our events, the majority of which are open to the public. Indeed, one of our most successful initiatives has been a two-semester continuing education class at the AHI for adults. Those interested in attending typically exceed our capacity to seat them.

AHI Undergraduate Fellows—students whom the AHI has nurtured over a period of years—continue to dazzle.  A few examples:  Elizabeth Farrington has recently graduated from Notre Dame Law School, where she received a scholarship; Tim Minella is completing a Ph.D. in the history of science as a Presidential Scholar at the University of South Carolina; Will Eagan is working with scholarship on an advanced degree in statistics at Purdue University; Dean Ball was one of several undergraduates from across the country to be awarded a prestigious internship at the Manhattan Institute; Marta Johnson landed a job as a young executive with a compensation consulting firm; Sarah Larson and Sarah Scalet received  internships to work in Washington D.C. with the American Council of Trustees and Alumni; Mark Garcia has completed coursework at Vanderbilt Law School; Thomas Cheeseman won the prestigious Wade Scholarship to attend Vanderbilt Law School.

In 2013, AHI Undergraduate Fellows led a variety of initiatives.  They organized a group independent study of Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws. The brothers of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity joined the AHI Undergraduate Fellows and the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross to sponsor a highly successful blood drive at the AHI.   More than twenty students are currently engaged under the supervision of AHI Charter Fellow Doug Ambrose in reading for our Christopher Dawson Society an array of Western thinkers who have written on the theory of just war. The AHI has also sponsored guests in a new course “Tocqueville’s America” created by Charter Fellow Robert Paquette.

The AHI continues to feature several annual events.  In the fall we celebrated our seventh birthday on Constitution Day (September 17) with the annual David Aldrich Nelson Lecture in Constitutional Jurisprudence.  Texas A&M hosted Professor Keith Whittington of Princeton University who spoke on “Is the Constitution a Cage?” The AHI also co-sponsored a Constitution Day event at Skidmore College; Professor Jeremy D. Bailey of the University of Houston spoke on “Jefferson’s Revolutionary Constitution: Paradox and Potential.”  At the AHI, Constitution Day featured the annual awarding of the Carl B. Menges Prizes for the best undergraduate papers related to the AHI’s annual colloquium.  This year’s winners—Sarah Larson, Jack Boyce, and Maggie Scott—received I-Pads, inscribed with their names.  Their papers involved an investigation of Samuel Huntington’s famous “clash-of civilizations” thesis and whether it could be applied to the United States Civil War.  On November 11, Veterans Day, the AHI sponsored General Josiah Bunting III in giving a special lecture; open to the public, on leadership.  The AHI prefaced its introduction of General Bunting, a charter member of the AHI’s board of directors, by announcing that it has established an annual Veterans Day Lecture on military history in his honor.

In 2014, the AHI is embarking on a number of initiatives. A few examples: During the spring semester, AHI Resident Fellow Chris Hill will be teaching at Utica College an AHI-sponsored course on “Law and Liberty in the Western Tradition.”  In the spring, the AHI will announce an affiliate, headed by Professor Joseph Fornieri, on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.  The AHI has formed a partnership with the Benjamin Franklin Forum at Skidmore.  As part of this relationship, the AHI will sponsor at Skidmore on at least a biannual basis, the Undergraduate Conference on the American Polity, with students from, among other campuses, Colgate, Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame, RIT, and Hamilton in attendance. In September 2014, the AHI will co-sponsor with the Daniel Webster Center at Dartmouth a major conference on “Tyranny and Totalitarianism:  Past, Present, and Future.”  As always, the pièce de résistance of our programming is the annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium in April at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York.  Mark your calendars.  On April 3-5, the AHI will explore a most timely theme:  “The West and War:  Strategic Challenges Past, Present, and Future.  Dr. Michael Swaine, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the world’s leading authorities on strategic issues between China and the United States, will keynote the event.

In 2012, Eugene Genovese, one of the most influential historians of his generation, passed away.  His will bequeathed to the AHI his treasured collection of books on the history of antebellum South as well as a number of boxes of his private papers. This precious gift speaks more loudly than words how far the AHI has come in seven years.

How can you help?  Some of you who will receive this letter have already made a tax-deductible contribution to the AHI for this year. We thank you for your generosity. We hope others will consider a financial contribution of $250, $150, $50 or more to further our existing programs and future initiatives.  James Madison, in a famous letter to Thomas Jefferson on whether the Constitution should have a Bill of Rights, warned that all the “parchment barriers” in the world would not protect the rights of the people if the spirit of the country had become corrupted.  The AHI’s work centers on restoring the spirit of a tradition on which a great civilization was founded.  Thank you for your help.



Richard Erlanger, President
Douglas Ambrose, Charter Fellow
James Bradfield, Charter Fellow
Robert Paquette, Charter Fellow