Policymakers | General Education

Truman’s warning

THE ADVOCATE   |  July 2, 2010

In 1952, through an exhibit unveiled at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were displayed together for the first time.

In dedicating the exhibit, President Harry S. Truman issued a warning. Those formative documents of the nation would live, said Truman, “only as long as they are enshrined in our hearts and minds. If they are not so enshrined, they would be no better than mummies in their glass cases, and they could in time become idols whose worship would be a grim mockery of the true faith.”

As another Independence Day approaches, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni is urging Americans to give Truman’s warning fresh consideration.

The council has noted that none of the country’s top 20 universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, require students to take a broad course in American history or government.

Without basic civic literacy, the council warns, the next generation of leaders will be hard-pressed to advance the legacy of America’s Founding Fathers.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has conservative leanings, but its goal of promoting more emphasis on core subjects in higher education is worthy of note by those of all political stripes.

Today, more than ever, Truman’s warning rings with special urgency.


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