The Progeny of Jefferson and Adams

By |2019-03-26T15:39:34-05:00December 27th, 2017|

All Americans tend to look at the nation either as disciples of Jefferson or as disciples of Adams: Jefferson told Americans what they wanted to hear; Adams told Americans what they needed to know… I. I was having a beer with a couple of other graduate students. We were looking out onto State Street, [...]

Is a “Liberal Conservative” an Oxymoron?

By |2018-06-21T20:35:16-05:00November 1st, 2017|

The liberal conservative must be discerning. For he believes in freedom as well as in order. He believes in individualism as well as in community. He believes in the equality of all men as well as in hierarchy, natural aristocracy, and excellence… Stephen Tonsor (left) and Russell Kirk in 1977 After the [...]

Socrates and Free Government

By |2017-10-26T00:09:36-05:00October 25th, 2017|

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 |2017-10-09T15:19:54-05:00October 9th, 2017|

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 |2017-09-28T15:22:15-05:00September 26th, 2017|

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 [...]

America: Liberal or Conservative at the Founding?

By |2017-09-28T15:26:41-05:00September 17th, 2017|

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, [...]

Stephen Tonsor on Christopher Dawson and Religion

By |2017-09-28T15:27:26-05:00September 7th, 2017|

“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 Greatest Book Never Written

By |2018-03-15T17:05:29-05:00August 31st, 2017|

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 [...]

To Hone One Mind Against the Gritty Stone of Another

By |2017-09-28T15:34:06-05:00August 17th, 2017|

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 [...]

The Fierce Intellect of Stephen Tonsor

By |2018-01-23T18:30:16-05:00August 2nd, 2017|

Was it coincidence? Fate? Providence? I could not know what it meant at the time. Yet September 27, 1986, would be my first encounter with the mind of Stephen Tonsor… Author’s Note: At the start of a new academic year, I am inaugurating this series on the most critical phase of my education as [...]