Hamilton College Professors Announce Establishment of New Independent Institute to Offer Programming Focused on American Ideals and Institutions

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Alexander Hamilton Institute made possible with the support of scholars, philanthropists, alumni from across the nation.

Three Hamilton College professors announced today the establishment of The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI). Inspired by Alexander Hamilton's life and work, the AHI promotes rigorous scholarship and vigorous debate in the study of freedom, democracy, and capitalism as these ideas were developed and institutionalized in the United States and within the larger tradition of Western culture. Programming will center on annual themes and consist of a rich menu of scholarly activities: lectures, colloquia, conferences, fellowships, internships, and awards. It will seek to engage a national audience of informed citizens, including high school and college students, teachers, alumni, trustees, and political officials.

The Alexander Hamilton Institute aims to reinvigorate interest both on and off college campuses in the American ideals of freedom, democracy and capitalism, said Robert Paquette, the Publius Virgilius Rogers professor of American history at Hamilton College who will serve with his co-founders as permanent senior fellows of the Institute. While study of these principles and of the broader Western tradition from which they derive may be out of fashion among some university faculty, we believe that students, alumni, parents, and the broader community will welcome programming focused on these ideas. Today, Constitution Day, is a very appropriate day for us to make this announcement.

The founders, Robert Paquette, professor of history, James Bradfield, professor of economics, and Doug Ambrose, associate professor of history, shared their ideas with Hamilton College administrators and reached agreement during the summer 2006 to locate on campus an Alexander Hamilton Center affiliated with and having the approval of the College. When opposition to the center emerged from within the College, the deal collapsed and no center was created. Yet the original charter attracted the attention of educators, philanthropists, and alumni around the country. Supporters engaged the founders in an extended conversation that resulted in the rebirth of the center as an independent entity unaffiliated with Hamilton College. The AHI will have an expanded mission to create intellectual products of the highest standards for educational institutions in upstate New York and across the country.

Programming will begin in the 2007-2008 academic year with an innovative colloquium, combining senior scholars and undergraduates, that will examine the vital role of upstate New York in ending slavery in the United States. In year two, the Institute will explore property rights - how they were understood by the founders, the importance of private property rights as a guardian of all other rights, and the history of eminent domain, which bears on the recent controversial Supreme Court decision Kelo v. New London. In 2009, the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, the institute will focus on how Lincoln and other great figures in American history have understood the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The independent AHI intends to enter into cooperative endeavors with kindred spirits across the country to advance the study of American ideals and institutions and to promote a genuinely free marketplace of ideas.

The institute's programming will be guided by an outside board of academic advisors comprised of distinguished scholars from different disciplines, including Robert George, founder of the James Madison Program at Princeton University, John Stauffer, Professor of English, American Literature, and Language, Harvard University, and Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books.

The Institute's board of directors, which will ensure loyalty to the mission of AHI as well as transparency and accountability, includes Carl Menges, a retired investment banker and former Hamilton College trustee; General Josiah Bunting III, President of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation; Anne Neal, President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni; Stephen Balch, President of the National Association of Scholars; (retired) Judge David A. Nelson, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and Jane Fraser, President of the Stuttering Foundation of America.

The AHI will be housed in a historic mansion, formerly known as the Alexander Hamilton Inn, in Clinton, New York.

More information about the AHI, its mission, advisors and overseers is available at http://www.theahi.org.

About the Founders
Robert Paquette is the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History at Hamilton College and a prize-winning author of books and articles on the history of slavery.

James Bradfield is the Elias A. Leavenworth professor of economics at Hamilton College and the author of the text Introduction to the Economics of Financial Markets (Oxford 2007).

Douglas Ambrose is Associate Professor of History at Hamilton College and the co-editor of The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton: The Life and Legacy of America's Most Elusive Founding Father (NYU 2006).

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Robert Paquette

Anne Neal
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
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