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Civility and the American Experience

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress hosted events in fall 2010 and spring 2011 on Civility and the American Experience.

In November 2010, the Center hosted Dr. Susan Herbst, President of the University of Connecticut, at the Presidential Fellows Program Fall Leadership Conference.  Dr. Herbst spoke on her lastest book Rude Democracy, and advised the students participating in the Presidential Fellows Program on ways that schools and institutions of higher learning can work to increase civility among their student bodies. Video of her lecture can be found here:


On February 24, 2011, the Center held a one-day conference which brought together prominent historians and experts to discuss civility and its historical role in American politics.  The conference roundtables focused on American history from the country’s founding through the Civil War, and participants discussed the Constitutional Convention, President George Washington’s First Term, the Compromises of 1820 and 1850, and President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. 

The keynote address on civility in the history of the Congress was given by Dr. Donald Ritchie, Historian of the United States Senate.  The roundtables were led by Mr. David Stewart, Mr. Jim Rees, Dr. David Heidler, Dr. Jeanne Heidler, and Dr. David Abshire.

Dr. David Abshire delivered the annual Phi Beta Kappa Guest Scholar Lecture at George Washington University on October 13, 2011, and based his remarks on the subjects discussed at the February conference.  A transcript of Dr. Abshire's lecture can be found here: