The Virtue of Practical Wisdom

Justice Clarence Thomas, Claremont Institute, February 9, 1999.


We gather here tonight in memory of a great man, a great president whose noble words and selfless deeds enabled this great nation to fulfill its promises of equality and liberty for all—to itself, to all mankind and to the Creator. To borrow a passage from one of that great president’s speeches, the world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but the world will never forget what he accomplished for the cause of freedom. Although our words cannot add to the greatness of the man or the depth of the sacrifice that he made, we can learn from him. It is right and fitting that we should do so. Happily, our task is made all the easier by many people in this room—most notably, our award recipient, Professor Jaffa, whose life work we also commemorate tonight. So, what is it we can learn from Abraham Lincoln and what is it Professor Jaffa has been trying to teach us over these forty years?

Claremont Institute