The event featured speeches from such notables as Clarence Thomas, Lynne Cheney, and William Kristol.
The Committee for the American Founding was founded by Professor of Political Science Hadley Arkes. The group has had several official gatherings both in Washington and at the College since its inception in November of 1999.
“The purpose of the group is to preserve the understandings of both Lincoln and the Founders here at Amherst College,” said Arkes.
Victor Hanson, Henry Hyde and Antonin Scalia are just a few of the prominent academics, politicians and jurists that have spoken at past gatherings of the Committee, whose speakers are generally more conservative in political philosophy than others that typically speak at the College.
The event started with a talk by William Kristol, who is the editor of The Weekly Standard. Kristol discussed the current state of the Bush Administration and made some predictions about its political future.
Clarence Thomas, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, spoke to the Committee after Kristol. The discussion by Thomas focused on the necessity of sticking to principles. “Clarence Thomas was just fabulous,” said Arkes. “He was funny, smart and quite moving.”
Thomas answered questions following his talk and made a point of going around the room to shake hands and have personal conversations with members of the Committee.
“Justice Thomas’ appearance was not just for mere entertainment,” said Ted Hertzberg ’04, a member of the student Committee for the American Founding. “It was a rewarding, enriching and educational experience.”
“Justice Thomas was very straightforward and certainly presented a stark contrast to the pariah he is presented to be in the media,” said Ryan Raskopf ’05.
The Committee took a lunch break subsequent to Thomas’ conclusion and reconvened in the afternoon to hear words from Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Cheney delivered a prepared speech on the importance of the American Founding and on the regrettable lack of knowledge about American history on college campuses across the country.
Cheney also discussed the recent flag burning incident outside of the Keefe Campus Center during an informal question and answer session following her remarks.
The final speaker of the day was Jerry Martin, president of the American Council of Teachers and Alumni (ACTA), a group which was founded by Cheney.
The evening closed with a dinner and cocktails, which gave Committee members, who span several generations, a chance to catch up with one another.
During the dinner, four members of the student Committee for the American Founding, Hertzberg, Windy Booher ’02, Mike Petrino ’03 and Andy Sagor ’03 all gave speeches expressing their appreciation of the Committee.
“The Committee is the only organization on campus that I know of that brings students together with alumni of different generations in a substantive way,” said Sagor. “Professor Arkes deserves a lot of credit for putting these special events together.”
The Committee for the American Founding’s next meeting will be in April on campus.
“All are welcomed to attend,” said Booher. “We would certainly like to see more students attend these meetings.”