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    Added news   to  , History

    One of the most fundamental questions of political theory is deceptively simple: why have a constitution at all? The answer to this question should be easy, given the widespread adoption of written constitutions in recent years, even if their substantive provisions vary widely from country to country.

    Regrettably, however, the success of constitutionalism is far from guaranteed if social conditions do not support limited government, which is why so many constitutions have very short half-lives. The most notable exception to this unhappy fate is the American Constitution of 1787—up and running, with many changes along the way, for 235 years. Its duration is not just happenstance, for it rests on a sound intuitive assessment of how governments should generally work. To understand why some constitutions work, consider the arguments against constitutional precommitments.

    Added news   to  , History

    We live in an age of increasing national self-doubt.

    The American project, as such, is under assault. Our history is the subject of a revisionist critique that is all-encompassing, unsparing, and very often flatly inaccurate. Our traditional heroes are under threat of being run out of the national pantheon. Our institutions, from elections to the job market to law enforcement, stand accused of perpetuating a systemic racism that is impossible to eradicate. Our educational system, from kindergarten through graduate school, is increasingly a forum for crude propagandizing. Our system of government is attacked as archaic, unfair, and racially biased. Our traditional values of fair play, free speech, and religious liberty are trampled by inflamed ideologues determined to impose their will by force and fear.

    The national mood resembles those of the 1930s and 1970s, when radical critiques of America got considerable traction and our national self-confidence often seemed to hang by a thread.

    It is in this context that we reclaim what once was a consensus view of America that has now become bitterly contested.

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    Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Carter G. Woodson, George Washington Carver, WEB Dubois, Rev. Martin Luther King.  All were prominent Americans of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    There's one prominent American who isn't included in this pantheon of historical greats.  In fact, he's one of the most underappreciated historical figures in American history.

    Born into slavery, he was determined not to allow his past, nor his race, to determine his future.  He pursued education and emphasized character development and self-determination.  He also stressed the obligation and the virtue of­ work.

    His ability to transcend enormous hardships saw him help build a school literally from the ground up.  Though he repeatedly refused the temptation to become a politician, his record of personal and professional excellence enabled him to advise presidents Roosevelt and Taft.  Despite his extremely modest beginnings, he became an influential black intellectual and one of the foremost educators of his time.

    As a result of his influence on Negro education and economic development — in addition to his desire for racial conciliation in the South — he was once called the "foremost man of his race in America."

    Who is this great man?

    Booker T. Washington.

    Added news   to  , History

    "In this and like communities,” Abraham Lincoln observed, “public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces opinions.” The formation of public sentiment, Lincoln believed, is not the whole of statesmanship, but it is the deepest and most important of the statesman’s tasks.

    Frederick Douglass enacted no statutes and pronounced no authoritative judicial opinions; he commanded no armies and wrote no constitutions; he founded no political institutions or orders. He was not a statesman in the restrictive usage of the term, confined to the class of public officials. He was instead, in 19th­-century parlance, only an agitator—an activist who occupied himself mainly in “the foolishness of preaching,” as he liked to call it, urging public officials and other fellow citizens to action in the service of the great moral causes of the day. Yet he was no ordinary agitator. He was the “Great Agitator” of 19th­ century America, the indispensable counterpart to the Great Emancipator. In a career spanning over 50 years, Douglass labored in his way, as Abraham Lincoln did in his, to renew and reinvigorate, and also to broaden and deepen, his country’s dedication to its first principles. Today he is remembered, with virtually universal admiration, as a preeminent teacher and exemplar of America’s moral meaning and mission.

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