Antonin Scalia on Russell Kirk

The late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a letter to Annette Kirk on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of The Conservative Mind in 2003.

Also see the 2016 tribute to Antonin Scalia in the University Bookman.

In the summer of 2003, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was invited to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the publication of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind at the White House. Although he was unable to attend, Justice Scalia sent Mrs. Kirk a letter expressing his appreciation for Kirk’s influence on his life and thought. The following is an excerpt from this letter:

Dear Mrs. Kirk:

In paying tribute to Dr. Kirk, I acknowledge my indebtedness to the man who first opened my mind to conservative thought. That occurred when I was in high school, working at a summer job that involved a lot of sitting-and-waiting, during which I read the very book whose publication date is marked today. For many years after that I was nourished by his other books, and by the scholarly journals The University Bookman and Modern Age that he edited. I once enjoyed the pleasure of visiting both of you—in connection, I believe, with a seminar sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute—at your famous Piety Hill home.

No one has had a greater role in the formation of American conservative thought. And no more courteous (indeed, courtly) a gentleman, nor one more devoted to the United States of America, could be imagined. I rejoice in the well deserved honor conferred on him today.

A poor man, if he has dignity, honesty, the respect of his neighbors, a realization of his duties, a love of the wisdom of his ancestors, and possibly some taste for knowledge or beauty, is rich in the unbought grace of life.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Kirk on Campus Hosts Douthat, Tanenbaum, and Bauerlein at Hope College

Join Kirk on Campus at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, on Thursday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m., for a spirited conversation with Ross Douthat of the New York Times, Sam Tanenhaus of the New York Times, Mark Bauerlein of First Things, moderated by Hope College’s Jeff Polet, about how the American conservative and progressive movements are being reshaped by 2016 election and the Trump presidency, and what it means for the future. Register for this free event here.

Nov 2017

Announcing Kirk on Campus

We are pleased to announce a web presence for Kirk on Campus, our new project that celebrates and defends the permanent things at America’s colleges and universities. As a unique source of cultural conservative thought, Kirk on Campus fills a critical niche in the national conversation. The program will bring scholars unashamed but not uncritical of the great legacy of America and the West to schools across Michigan and its neighboring region. In doing so it will help contribute to a greater variety of thought and informed opinion, as well as to cultivate much-need civilized discourse.

Nov 2017

Edwards on Kirk

Lee Edwards has written an essay on Kirk in the Fall 2017 edition of Modern Age—“The Mind Behind ‘The Conservative Mind’,” outlining the unique traits of character, background, and mind that enabled Kirk to write his catalytic book, The Conservative Mind.

Nov 2017