“I have to confess, I’m really excited to be here tonight.”
With these words, Kelly Hanlon neatly summed up the mood at Agora Institute’s inaugural lecture held at the Warner Memorial Library on the evening of September 29.
Hanlon is the executive director of the new organization, officially titled Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and Common Good to the greater Eastern community.
According to Hanlon, the organization was formally established in July 2011 to “nurture and sustain free and humane citizens and institutions in their service to the common good.” It will attempt to achieve this goal by holding conferences and lectures, such as the one that took place on the 29th.
The inaugural lecture was cosponsored by the Templeton Honors College and Eastern University’s Office of Development. Delivered by American historian Dr. George H. Nash, the main address was entitled “The Education of Our Founding Fathers.”
Nash is an American historian who specializes on the life of Herbert Hoover. He has written a number of books and articles in his field and has also lectured at the Library of Congress, the National Archives and many other prestigious institutions.
Nash opened his lecture with a blessing for Agora, saying, “it is my hope and prayer that the Agora Institute would do good work in the coming years and be rewarded for it.” He went on to “examine the education of the founding fathers.”
Nash’s argument was simple: “The founding fathers were readers” who were fluent in Greek and Latin, and were “steeped in classics.” They were well versed in political philosophy and frequently consulted history for guidance. Nash claimed that these men were not just thinkers, but were “contemplative activists,” suggesting that the successes of the American Revolution and the formation of this nation are in great part due to their rigorous education.
The lecture concluded with a challenge to the audience to “read books that last.”
When Nash had finished, the audience burst into enthusiastic applause. Several students were quick to offer their praise for the event.
“I attended the lecture because I enjoy the subject matter,” said senior Dani Bailey, a History major. “The founding fathers are of great interest to me and Dr. Nash presented a great deal of facts on this topic.” Her colleague, Jessica Reimers, quickly agreed.”Dr. Nash is an intelligent man and an amazing scholar,” said Reimers, who is also a senior and a history major. “His speech was clear and well organized, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Furthermore, “the entire event made me very excited about the Agora Institute. I want to learn more about it and maybe even become involved with it.”