We are about a month away from Acton University, and another keynote speaker is William B. Allen. He is an expert in the American founding and U.S. Constitution; the American founders; the influence of various political philosophers on the American founding. He is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Emeritus Dean, James Madison College, at Michigan State University. Currently he serves as Visiting Senior Professor in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University.
Allen’s keynote address is entitled, “To Preserve, Protect and Defend: The Emancipation Proclamation.” In this 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Allen focuses on who were the true beneficiaries of that statesmanlike act. This presentation will look at Lincoln’s intentions in the emancipation proclamation. Although this proclamation was later called a “war measure,” it was inspired by a comprehensive understand of how susceptible free institutions are to neglect and rejection. In a 1989 Imprimis article, Allen says this:
Following the war and Emancipation there was a fairly vigorous effort in this country to realize the promises of the Declaration of Independence as those promises were restated through the 14th Amendment. Many things occurred about which Americans were justifiably proud and particularly in the lives of the ex-slaves. There was a spontaneous flowering of entrepreneurial activity and indigenous development of educational mechanisms—schools, teachers, and even the onset of university education to a significant degree. Communities had formed structured expectations built upon recognized moral practices and certainly congruent with the hopes and ambitions encouraged thereby.
His most recent book is Rethinking Uncle Tom: The Political Thought of Harriet Beecher Stowe. In this, Allen dives into a study of Stowe’s political thought. Stowe taught her readers how to realize and maintain a government founded on natural rights and Christian value, how to eliminate slavery, and she recognized the means for educating citizens. Alfred L. Brophy, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says this about Rethinking Uncle Tom:
[It]is an extraordinary work of scholarship—the culmination of decades of research and thinking by W.B. Allen. It is more than the finest book ever written on that volume. It rediscovers Stowe’s sophisticated political theory and gives Stowe her place as one of our country’s finest political philosophers, who presented an integrated vision of liberty and equality over slavery. She helped lead our nation to realize the possibilities of a political existence that would bring us as close as humanly possible to perfection.
William B. Allen offers unique insight into the emancipation proclamation and the concept of liberty; no doubt he will present an interesting evening lecture at Acton University.