There is, if you will, an arresting scene in A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt’s magnificent play about Sir Thomas More. The scene concerns an arrest that does not take place at the home of More, the Lord Chancellor of England. An acquaintance named Richard Rich is acting suspiciously and members of the More household, and no doubt More himself, suspect he is spying on the Lord Chancellor and is prepared to betray him to his enemies — a suspicion borne out all too well by later events. Rich has no sooner left than More’s wife, daughter, and son-in-law all clamor for his arrest, a request More might grant but for the inconvenient fact that the man had broken no law.
The Rotunda at the University of Virginia announced last week that the university’s collection of the papers of James Madison are being digitized and added to the larger online library of the documents of our Founding Fathers. According to a press release posted on the Rotunda’s website:
Famed Roman orator, the silver-tongued Cicero, once noted, "It is valuable to look to the words of our Founders, but it is more valuable to study the principles that inspired their words." In the present climate, winds are whipping in from the plains of plutocracy and eroding at an extraordinary pace the bedrock foundations of limited government upon which our Republic was founded. As Cicero witnessed the gradual replacement of his own Republic with an empire ruled by one autocrat after another distracting the masses with mere gimcracks of popular government, he turned to the words of his noble forbearers. We would do wisely to follow his example.
When Matthew Josephson wrote The Robber Barons in 1934, he tipped his hand as to his personal prejudice against the capitalists of the late 19th century:
Pardon me, but if I hear one more time that we can’t deport 12 million illegal aliens I’m headed for the backyard to howl at the moon. Is the American memory so short that we’ve already forgotten the 1950s? This writer is old enough to remember very clearly the mass deportation of illegal aliens that occurred in 1954 in what was officially termed “Operation Wetback” (prior to the age of political correctness).