About Gleaves Whitney

Gleaves Whitney is Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He is the Executive Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. He was the Director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies from 2003-2020. Mr. Whitney has written, edited, or contributed to several books, including John Engler: The Man, the Leader & the Legacy, American Presidents: Farewell Messages to the Nation, and the revised edition of Russell Kirk’s The American Cause.

Socrates and Free Government

By |2021-04-29T09:50:29-05:00October 25th, 2017|Categories: Apology, Gleaves Whitney, History, Plato, Socrates, Stephen Tonsor series|

A free government is only sustainable if citizens can govern themselves. Socrates patiently revealed, through conversations that held a mirror up to fellow citizens, that they did not sufficiently understand such basic concepts as justice, piety, virtue, truth, and goodness when applied to themselves. Yet they presumed to govern others? Author's Note: Following is my revised [...]

Stephen Tonsor on Intellectual History & Equality

By |2021-05-19T01:28:17-05:00October 9th, 2017|Categories: Education, Equality, Freedom, Gleaves Whitney, History, Stephen Tonsor series|

Ideologues have been manipulating the idea of equality for two centuries now. Still, it is equality that has provided the dynamism, the moving force that has energized modern history. The great liberal and leftist revolutions of the past two centuries have all been made in the name of equality…   After we began the walk [...]

The South & the American Iliad

By |2021-05-19T01:29:36-05:00September 26th, 2017|Categories: Civil War, Gleaves Whitney, History, South, Stephen Tonsor series|

Because the Civil War is the American Iliad, it is constantly being refought in the public memory. Much is at stake, for myths make meaning, meaning makes politics, and politics make myths… Jesse Jackson made a remarkable run for the presidency in the early months of 1988—two decades before America would elect its first black [...]

America: Liberal or Conservative at the Founding?

By |2021-05-27T13:23:33-05:00September 17th, 2017|Categories: Civilization, Economics, Gleaves Whitney, History, Roots of American Order, Stephen Tonsor series|

In the process of revitalizing Britain’s governing principles, the American founding also unleashed the ideas of liberty and equality to an unexpected degree. A heavy overcast settled over the Huron Valley. Expecting snow at any moment, I sought shelter in Haven Hall. My hope was to intercept Dr. Tonsor coming down from his office, then [...]

Stephen Tonsor on Christopher Dawson and Religion

By |2019-07-23T13:06:38-05:00September 7th, 2017|Categories: Christianity, Civilization, Community, Culture, Gleaves Whitney, History, Religion, Stephen Tonsor series|

“You cannot assume your personal opinions are the truth. This is why we study history: to use the slashing blade of reason like a machete to hack through the dark jungle of false opinion until we see the light of truth”… When Professor Stephen Tonsor had finished his prepared remarks on Christopher Dawson, arguably the [...]

The Greatest Book Never Written

By |2019-06-13T11:30:39-05:00August 31st, 2017|Categories: Books, Catholicism, Culture, Featured, Gleaves Whitney, History, Liberty, Stephen Tonsor series|

Lord Acton is the prophet who foresaw our times. He anticipated the dangers of statism. But ironically he is now a setting star—passé and remote. This, it must be said, is a tragedy of his own making. It’s a mystery why he never wrote his planned magnum opus… In late July, shortly before loading a [...]

To Hone One Mind Against the Gritty Stone of Another

By |2020-02-18T12:12:11-06:00August 17th, 2017|Categories: Beauty, Culture, Gleaves Whitney, History, Stephen Tonsor series|

My first conversation with Stephen Tonsor occurred on a mid-April morning in 1987. Already we were talking about a great nineteenth-century historian, the first principles of a European Liberal, and what it all meant to an American conservative… My first conversation with Stephen Tonsor occurred on a mid-April morning in 1987. I was living in [...]

Should We Celebrate Presidents’ Day, or Washington’s Birthday?

By |2021-02-14T09:47:53-06:00February 20th, 2017|Categories: American Republic, Constitution, George Washington, Gleaves Whitney, Presidency|

People ask why a few of us presidential junkies would like to see Presidents’ Day changed back to Washington’s Birthday. The technical explanation has to do with a misguided law called HR 15951 that was passed in 1968 to make federal holidays less complicated. The real answer is simply this: George Washington is our greatest [...]

Presidential Farewell Addresses

By |2021-01-17T11:15:46-06:00January 10th, 2017|Categories: Barack Obama, George Washington, Gleaves Whitney, Presidency|

Presidential farewells constitute a great American conversation among the nation’s chief executives and open our view onto a large and detailed panorama of the past. Farewell, Mr. President When on January 10, 2017, Barack Obama delivered his farewell address to the nation, the occasion was only the tenth time in U.S. history that a president [...]

The Education of a President

By |2017-02-23T00:24:34-06:00December 2nd, 2016|Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Classical Education, Education, Featured, George Washington, Gleaves Whitney, History, Liberal Learning, Presidency|

The lack of schooling in the formation of one of every four U.S. presidents underscores the paradox that even the most humble among them were often great champions of education in general and of the liberal arts in particular… Can the liberal arts prepare citizens for leadership? Most of us in higher education want the [...]

Our Age of Anxiety: Surviving Political Realignment

By |2016-12-28T07:45:18-06:00October 17th, 2016|Categories: Democracy, Democracy in America, Featured, Gleaves Whitney, Information Age, Politics, Presidency, Technology|

In 2016 Americans are feeling anxious. It’s not that we are experiencing crises—we are neither in total war nor economic depression. Yet 2016 has forced us to rethink all we thought we knew. A Socialist made a credible run for the Democratic nomination and succeeded in moving the Democratic Party platform farther left than it [...]

Stephen Tonsor: A Professor of Rigor and Variety

By |2016-06-27T10:10:33-05:00February 8th, 2014|Categories: Conservatism, Education, Gleaves Whitney|

Professor Stephen Tonsor Back in the 1980s, when I told a friend that I was doing graduate work in history at Michigan, he looked surprised: “But you are conservative, and there aren’t any conservatives on the faculty in Ann Ar­bor.” “Oh, that’s not true,” I shot back, “I had lunch with him.” Academic [...]

The Conservative Mind at 60

By |2021-05-11T08:56:13-05:00January 28th, 2014|Categories: Gleaves Whitney, Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind|

Speaking about The Conservative Mind on the book’s sixtieth anniversary, Gleaves Whitney explains why Russell Kirk chose Edmund Burke as his book’s central figure. Kirk believed that Burke understood the fragility of civilization and knew that free peoples will have both parties of innovation and conservation. How our culture appropriately balances the will of the two will dictate [...]

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