Ethics & Public Policy Center

Truths Still Held? John Courtney Murray’s ‘€œAmerican Proposition’€ Fifty Years Later



A version of Mr. Weigel’s remarks were published as an essay in First Things. Click here to read it.

In 1960, in the midst of a campaign that would bring the first baptized Catholic to the White House, and at the beginning of a decade that would end in social and political turmoil, John Courtney Murray published his seminal work We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition. Murray argued that the American experiment was founded upon certain truths about the nature of men and how they ought to live together. America is unique because it was founded upon a Proposition, “an ensemble of elementary affirmations.” And if the genius and strength of the American democracy depended upon its robust moral and cultural roots, then the withering or even erosion of these roots must be its great weakness and vulnerability.

In his 2008 and 2009 William E. Simon Lectures, EPPC Distinguished Senior Fellow, George Weigel examined various aspects of how the cultural afterburn of the 1960s has come to define public life and the politics of today. Now, a half century after the publication of We Hold These Truths, Weigel assesses the health of our contemporary public culture through the prism of Murray’s description of the truths on which the American democratic experiment rests.

The William E. Simon Lecture and Reception is generously funded by the William E. Simon Foundation. The Lecture was established in 2001 in honor of the late Secretary of the Treasury, an ardent defender of political and economic freedom.

For more information or to request an invitation, please contact Stephen White.

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