A Truly American Scholar

"A Truly American Scholar: James Q. Wilson Was Able to Make Students Enthusiastic over Prudence, While Other Teachers Gained Applause Only with Displays of Liberalism or Extremism," Wall Street Journal, 5 March 2012.


Scholar James Q. Wilson, who died last week at the age of 80, hated to be praised. He was truly modest. Now that he has departed he can do no more, and it is up to those he left behind to secure his reputation. So what did Wilson have to teach us?

It was mostly about the importance of character—in life, in politics and in political science. Character is taught first by example and then with words.

I begin from the softball and touch football games Jim organized when he was chairman of Harvard’s government department in the early 1970s. …