Henry Steele Commager
Educator, Essayist & Champion of the Constitution
This site is dedicated to the life, memory and legacy of Henry Steele Commager---educator, essayist and impassioned enthusiast of the Enlightenment----an enthusiasm which he exemplified in his widely ranging professional and personal pursuits.
Staunch defender of the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, Commager delighted in stumping Federal Court judges who were not as quick as he to remember Supreme Court decisions in their entirety. He was equally gleeful, when demonstrating his ability to remember the Köchel catalogue number for all of Mozart's works and dazzling musicians by whistling the opening movements of those and much of Beethoven without faltering. His love of English prose, so evident in his writings, extended to keeping a full set of the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language in the dining room and embraced his effortless ability to cite almost as many great authors as Bartlett's Quotations contains between its covers.
Slight in stature, blind in one eye and with a slightly lopsided jaw, Commager was hardly an imposing figure. However when teaching or addressing an audience, the sparkle in his eyes, the passion of his convictions, the eloquence of his prose left those leaving his presence convinced that the world could be a better place if only America would fulfill its destiny as a "City on a Hill"---by example, not by brute force---and further the goals of global peace and freedom and justice.
Here we remember Henry Steele Commager and his work, and reap inspiration once again to play our part in the outcome of the American Experiment, to remain ever vigilant, protecting and promoting---in the classroom, in the courts, in civic affairs---those freedoms without which Democracy cannot endure.