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Teacher, Savant, Historian of Freedom

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters



The American Revolution, as Dr. Hoffman has well said, was the defense of a divinely established order, whereas the French Revolution was the presumptuous defiance of divine dominion in civil society. What the French Revolution denied was the spiritual nature of man, which is the foundation of freedom. And because this denial has influenced and to a great extent still influences Western society, we must be concerned for the survival of freedom. Evidences of this pervasive false philosophy are not hard to find in our own democratic Republic: presumptuous professors indoctrinating youth with an evolutionary or relativistic philosophy which rejects all that is absolute or permanent in human experience; political demagogues who talk much of the dignity of the individual while they are advocating schemes which ignore or deny that dignity; materialistic schools producing generations of youth instructed in the techniques of life but blankly ignorant of its laws. It is not that modern times have not sought and found many good things, but rather that too often the seeking has been along wrong tracks. The need now is to seek these good things along right tracks, and to save the human values and achievements aimed at by our forefathers and endangered by the false philosophy of life of the last century. We cannot serve or save freedom by assuming the despairing attitude that the trend of events is irreversible. The task that confronts us as a democratic, freedom-loving people is a challenging opportunity for men of courage. The true substance of the last century's aspirations, as well as the human progress it achieved, must be saved both from its own errors and from the aggression of totalitarian barbarism. A new world of genuine humanism and genuine Christian inspiration must be built. What Dr. Hoffman told us is a prophecy: "Whenever and wherever a people have prized and ancestral heritages in the spirit of gratitude for a providential bequest, and have acted with firmness to defend it, they have enlarged the area of freedom by setting an infectious example." There are those who, in the spirit of patriotism, humility and gratitude to Divine Providence, have in various ways - by persuasive expression, human contacts, guidance of youth, and effective personal participation in national life and in the economy of the world community - supported and strengthened the structure of our freedom. Therefore on the occasion of this inaugural Gabriel Richard lecture, the University of Detroit, which is dedicated to the dissemination of the principles of true freedom, wishes to honor lovers and apostles of freedom. I present, Reverend President, for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters: Ross J. S. Hoffman, teacher, savant, historian of freedom, whose repute among scholars won him the right to be elected the first Gabriel Richard Lecturer. Inaugural Gabriel Richard Lecture Series, University of Detroit, November 9, 1950.

University of Detroit

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