The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

Memories of Michael Uhlmann

The James Wilson Institute had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion on the life and work of Senior Fellow Michael Uhlmann on the evening of Tuesday, February 18.

Some notable quotes in remembrance of Uhlmann from the night are below.

Justice Thomas: “But Mike Uhlmann was the first to broach that idea, and to put it to say that almost as though it was something not…in a very sort of subdued and humble way. This is what you should do. Not from a standpoint of ambition, or career, but this is required of you. And I sort of I guess, as a former seminarian, you’re always looking for the next vocation and those seeds were there and never to be removed.”

Boyden Gray: “He was a great friend and he was a great, great teacher.”

Chris DeMuth: “The report [that] Mike wrote is quite wonderful and Claremont Institute is going to be publishing it in pamphlet form sometime this year, along with several important essays that have been written afterwards…But it really all goes back to the piece that Mike wrote as a 30 year old, brand new junior bunny staffer for Senator Ruska in the heat of battle, when the electoral college abolition had passed the House by an overwhelming majority, with stronger Republican support than Democratic support.”

Charles Kesler: “[Being a full-time teacher] was his perhaps his real vocation or his ultimate vocation. Certainly no one was as passionate or as good a teacher I think as he…He was an interesting combination of faith and reason, theory and practice, and sort of the pastoral and the dogmatic, and there was really no one else around who sort of had his uncanny ability to move from theory to practice, and from talking about the way things should be, to figuring out how we could help them to be as they should be.”

Attorney General Bill Barr: “At each important juncture [Michael Uhlmann] decided where I fit in the scheme of things, so I owe him a lot.”

Ryan Williams: “…he was as warm as everyone who knew him knows, of course, a warm collector of friends and families, and with a bunch of fellow grad students—some were married, some were not—and he had this earthy Catholic sense of humor. You’d get married and he’d be very happy for you and then he’d say, ‘Expecting any children?

Matt Glover: “In the course of the hour and 15 minute lecture, he must have taken different positions eight times, I must have changed my mind eight times.”

Hadley Arkes: “He left us grand memories and instructions and wise counsel. But he also left us the gifts of Rachael, Peter, and Becky, and Jenny, and Sarah. And I’m so touched to see them, have them with us today.”

Dr. Larry P. Arnn (via email): “When I finally met Mike, I was not ready for the sense of humor and good will that possessed his whole being.  His tongue was quick, but not as quick as his eyes.  They told you that he was already enjoying something he was about to say.”

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790