Excellence is a process that should occupy all our days.
The men and women who occupied the east coast of North America between 1607 and 1800 have been more closely scrutinized than any other collection of people in American history.
There is something about guns that inhibits understanding. It is not just that they can put an end to argument. They somehow generate beliefs that are obviously contrary to observable fact.
It is ironic that the United States should have been founded by intellectuals, for throughout most of our political history, the intellectual has been for the most part either an outsider, a servant or a scapegoat.
What was the American Revolution? The people who joined to carry it out had different views of what they had done.
The little things, I can obey. But the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone – or any society – determine those for you.
In 1595, by order of the Privy Council, the English armed services abandoned the longbow and fought with muskets for the next two centuries and more. Nobody is sure why.
People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages.
In America, we may acknowledge Washington and Lincoln as great men, and probably Franklin and Jefferson and maybe Franklin Delano Roosevelt and possibly even several more, but we would probably disagree about precisely what it was that made them great, what it was that enabled them to give a lasting direction to the course of events.
A university’s essential character is that of being a center of free inquiry and criticism – a thing not to be sacrificed for anything else.