March 20, 2020
Dear Friends and Supporters of AHI:
COVID-19, the coronavirus, is presenting formidable challenges to us all. Each of us must now make hard choices about how to live our lives and what level of risk is acceptable in conducting our daily affairs in everything from finding groceries to helping loved ones.
Yet, I am enheartened during this national emergency by a great visible display in many of our fellow citizens of the better angels of our nature. One example: A few days ago, I visited a Wegmans near Syracuse, one of the busiest supermarkets in upstate New York. Although in many places the cupboard was bare, I saw employees, young and old, busily at work sanitizing and restocking shelves. In checking out my purchases in a long line, the lady who was scanning the items, probably in her early sixties, clearly belonged to the age group particularly vulnerable to the virus. When my turn came, I asked how she was holding up. “Just fine,” she responded, “Everyone has to do their bit, and working here in the checkout allows me to do just that.” During moments of crisis, we see concerning stories about the irresponsible exercising of a “freedom to” or “freedom from.” Let us not forget the best of us who are putting themselves in harm’s way by exercising a “freedom for.”
Although the epidemic has disrupted AHI programming, it has not ended it. Not at all. We are busily at work continuing what we can through the internet and operating under an optimistic scenario in rescheduling major events for the fall and next year. Here is an update:
1. AHI’s continuing education class, “Presidential Power in American History,” will continue by e-mail. Resident Fellow Dr. David Frisk, the course’s instructor, is sending out a weekly lecture and encouraging class members to ask questions or offer comments about it and the readings. The responses, and his answers, are collected into a weekly e-mail that goes to the class. All readings can be provided by e-mail. If you are new to the group and are interested in taking part, please contact Dr. Frisk at email@example.com Dr. Frisk is also looking into technology that will facilitate online teaching.
2. The Annual Undergraduate Conference in the American Polity, scheduled to take place at Princeton University, April 3-4, has been cancelled. Thanks to the good offices of the James Madison Program, we have already rescheduled the event at Princeton for March 19-20, 2021.
3. The Annual Mary and David Nichols Conference in the Great Books, to be held this summer at Baylor University, has been postponed until at least the fall. AHI Senior Fellow Tim Burns, director of the graduate program in political science at Baylor, has organized a two-day conference on totalitarianism. Flagg Taylor, Associate Professor of Political Science, Skidmore College, will direct the discussion.
4. AHI’s annual two-week summer program in national security, scheduled for June 14-28 in Washington DC, has been postponed until the summer of 2021.
5. A special conference on the 1619 project, co-sponsored by AHI in collaboration with the National Association of Scholars, scheduled for the end of April in Austin, Texas, has been postponed until the fall.
6. Enquiry, AHI’s student-run newsletter, will publish one more issue before the end of the semester and will resume publication in the fall. AHI Undergraduate Fellow Casimir Zablotski will publish the fruits of his research into Bernie Sanders’ time at Hamilton College during the spring semester, 1990, when he was a visiting professor, teaching courses in urban sociology and democratic socialism.
7. Starting in the fall, as part of the Alexander Hamilton Initiative in the Study of History, AHI will organize a reading cluster, open to the public, on great essays in American history. AHI president Robert Paquette will direct the cluster, which will meet weekly. We welcome suggestions from our many friends as to what essays should be included. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. When the list is completed, we will post the selections online. AHI will also be using the summer to update its webpage on source material in American history.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us through our website. Please know that we wish you and your loved ones safe passage through the current storm.
President and Executive Director, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization