Samuel Johnson, one of Great Britain’s most distinguished men of letters, said of Edmund Burke, “You could not stand five minutes with that man beneath a shed while it rained, but you must be convinced you had been standing with the greatest man you had ever yet seen.” Russell Kirk, one of the intellectual fathers of modern conservatism in the United States, embraced Burke as a venerated forefather. Yet, Conor Cruse O’Brien, the Irish statesman and intellectual who ranks as perhaps Burke’s foremost modern biographer, argues strenuously for Burke as a liberal icon, a man who in defending the American Revolution, denouncing the French Revolution, indicting British corruption in India, and pursuing justice for the Irish remained fundamentally consistent in his detestation of authoritarian rule.
On the evening of 3 December, the Hamilton College Republican Club inaugurated the Edmund Burke Association (EBA). Its mission: the intensive exploration of political thought and political theory related to the founding of the United States and to the development of American ideals and institutions. The EBA intends to educate members in ideas related to national defense, minimal government, freedom, patriotism, and traditional values. The EBA will be open to all students interested in a free, frank, and civil exchange of ideas. Like the AHI, the EBA is interested in promoting intellectual diversity. Monthly meetings centered on prescribed readings will be held at the AHI, which will also host leadership lunches during which students will have the chance to converse on related subjects with academic guests. A kick-off event, targeted for late January at the AHI will be open to the public. Details are forthcoming.