Tag Archives: American history

The Downgrading of American History

A little more than a decade ago, I commented on the “re-visioning” of American history—the transformation of “traditional” sub-disciplines such as U.S. political, diplomatic, or military history to have them focus on the themes of race, class, and gender (and, now, ethnicity) that have come to dominate the field. A more recent development, documented by a 2016 ACTA report, has been the elimination of any required courses in U.S. history—even of the “re-visioned” variety. Only 23 of the nation’s 76 leading colleges and universities have such a requirement for History majors.

ACTA’s report is important not merely because of its impressive collection of hard-to-gather data, but because it has led some university History departments to publicly explain why they believe it’s fine for a U.S. university to graduate a History major who hasn’t taken a single course in U.S. history.

According to George Washington’s History Department, the elimination of a U.S. history requirement was purely market-driven—the number of majors had declined, and the department decided that eliminating a U.S. requirement would attract majors. Yet the department kept a far more onerous requirement (a pre-1750 course).

And a comment last month from the department’s director of undergraduate studies—“American history is so dominant at GW that it’s almost unnecessary to tell students that they have to take it. It’s what our students overwhelmingly do”— contradicted the suggestion that the unpopularity of U.S. history explained the decision to eliminate the requirement.

If George Washington’s seemingly illogical explanation for its removal of the U.S. history requirement, the response of the Duke History Department provided a clearer rationale for the problem the ACTA report exposed. Professor Bruce Hall, director of undergraduate studies in Duke’s History Department, asserted that “our goal is to have our students to develop the kind of critical skills that we think are really important for them”—implying that the actual content of History courses is irrelevant to Duke history professors.

Of course, the vast majority of History courses at Duke (or any other university) consist not of the instructor spending dozens of hours talking about “skills,” but of the professor providing information about the past. The “skills” emphasis (a favorite of the AAC&U, among others) provides a way to divert the public’s attention from what actually is being taught in university classrooms.

In the event, a Ph.D. student in the Duke program, Jessica Malitoris, gave the game away, indicating her “worry about the politics of privileging American history.” (Malitoris’ Duke profile affiliates her with the institution’s gender, sexuality, and feminist studies program.) Hall appeared to agree: “We don’t try to communicate an American ideological notion about citizenship—that’s not our goal.”

At least Malitoris was candid in why the department might have eliminated the requirement for U.S. history. (How that line would work with Duke donors, on the other hand, is a different question.) Hall’s remark, meanwhile, is difficult to square with his department’s own mission statement, which proclaims that “we study history for instrumental reasons, to redress the pervasive ‘history deficit’ in political discourse and policy formation.”

(The department’s website doesn’t indicate the nationality of its majors, but it seems safe to assume that the majority, and probably the overwhelming majority, are U.S. citizens, linking the department’s concern with “the pervasive ‘history deficit’ in political discourse and policy formation” to U.S. history.) And Duke University’s own mission statement, as articulated by the Board of Trustees, speaks of providing students with “a sense of the obligations and rewards of citizenship” that Hall appeared to disparage.

Only pressure from trustees is likely to achieve any kind of progress on this issue. As the responses of the Duke and George Washington departments illustrated, and as ACTA’s study documented, it appears that a majority of History professors nationally now believe that it’s OK for a university to graduate History majors who have never taken a course in U.S. history.

A Big Campus Trend: Ignorance of U.S. History

This is an excerpt from the new ACTA report, No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major. It reveals that fewer than 1/3 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities require students pursuing a degree in history to take a single course in American history. Read the full report is here.

Although it is reasonable to assume that at America’s top-ranked colleges and universities, education for meaningful citizenship would be a priority, that is a false assumption. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has delved into the requirements and course offerings in history departments at 76 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities to see how U.S. history fits into their programs. Only 23 undergraduate history programs at the U.S. News & World Report’s top 25 national universities, top 25 public institutions, and top 25 liberal arts colleges require a single U.S. history class.

The overwhelming majority of America’s most prestigious institutions do not require even the students who major in history to take a single course on United States history or government. Disregard for the importance of United States history in the undergraduate history major is matched by the overall disappearance of United States history requirements from general education, the core curriculum that should be part of every student’s education. ACTA’s annual “What Will They Learn?” survey shows that only 18% of the over 1,100 four-year colleges and universities in the study, public and private, require a foundational course in United States history or United States government.

Related: What’s American about American History?

The consequences of these weak academic standards are clear. ACTA’s surveys of college graduates reveal year after year deep and widespread ignorance of United States history and government. In 2012, 2014, and 2015, ACTA commissioned the research firm GfK to survey college graduates’ knowledge of American history. ACTA sees the same dispiriting results each time:

  • Less than 20% could accurately identify—in a multiple-choice survey—the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Less than half could identify George Washington as the American general at Yorktown.
  • Only 42% placed the Battle of the Bulge in the history of World War II.
  • One-third of college graduates were unaware that FDR introduced the New Deal.
  • Nearly half did not know that Teddy Roosevelt played a major role in constructing the Panama Canal

. • Over one-third of the college graduates surveyed could not place the American Civil War in its correct 20-year time frame.

  • Nearly half of the college graduates could not identify correctly the term lengths of U.S. senators and representatives. Reputation and high tuition are no guarantee that students will know the history of their nation.

When ACTA commissioned a Roper survey of seniors at the “Top 50” colleges and universities, those holding the most prestigious positions in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, it found that only 29% could identify—in a multiple-choice survey—the definition of “Reconstruction.” Little more than half could identify the purpose of the Federalist Papers. Only 23% could name James Madison as the Father of the Constitution. And only 22% could match the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” with the Gettysburg Address.

Bottom line: No college or university can assume that students have even an elementary grasp of the important moments in United States history in the absence of a requirement for its study.

Related: “Big History’ Kicks U.S. History to the Back of the Class

Given what we know about the historical illiteracy of young Americans, it would seem irresponsible not to make the study of our history and government mandatory for all students. Not to require students majoring in history to take, at a minimum, a course with reasonable chronological and thematic breadth on the history of the United States would be a truly breathtaking abandonment of intellectual standards and professional judgment. We find in our study of the top 25 liberal arts colleges, the top 25 national universities, and the top 25 public institutions that only 23 programs out of 76 require a course on our nation’s history. That’s less than one-third.

Why top undergraduate departments behave this way is unclear. Perhaps it is from fear of seeming to endorse “American exceptionalism.” Or perhaps it comes from a naïve belief that American students already have a firm grasp of their nation’s history. Either way, the damage is real. Virtually all institutions offer comprehensive courses on America’s past, but the overwhelming majority do not take the vitally important next step of ensuring that all graduating majors have taken one of these courses.

Look at What Yale Does

This only-if-you-want-to approach will undoubtedly lead scores of history majors to graduate without ever taking a course on United States history beyond the high-school level. Yale University exemplifies this desire to maximize student choice at the cost of essential requirements.

It recently implemented a “specialist track” that allows history majors beginning with the class of 2017 to forgo a requirement in U.S. history whereas previous students were required to take at least two courses in the history of the United States or Canada. According to the department’s website, this new option was “created in response to students’ desire to focus in particular areas of interest earlier in the History major.” Likewise, Rice University required students who matriculated before fall 2014 to take one course in United States history, but their new set of requirements makes it merely optional.

It is not the case that history departments refuse to set any requirements for the major. Although a large majority of schools fail to require even a single course in U.S. history, as noted above, many do have geographical-distribution requirements excluding the United States.

Higher education leadership needs to face the problem squarely and take action. Our colleges and universities, whether in the name of “inclusion” or globalism or a debased hope that they will attract more students by eliminating requirements, have created a vicious circle of historical illiteracy and the civic illiteracy that accompanies it. This illiteracy extends to the troubling way that students view fundamental aspects of our nation’s structure of law and government.

A 2016 Gallup poll showed that 27% of college students supported “restricting the expression of political views that upset or offend certain groups.” Another 49% believed it is right to prevent reporters from covering protests held on college campuses if they believe the reporting will be “unfair.” Those who do not know the history of the nation are, of course, much more likely to view its constitutional freedoms with nonchalance.

What Students Need

If our colleges and universities seek to retain public support of their work, they must understand that a high-quality curriculum comes from informed choices, developed through the reason, professional training, and good sense of faculty and college leadership. Faculties have the right to pursue personal intellectual interests, but they also have an obligation to address what students need to learn.

Trustees and administrators should insist that departments articulate with far greater clarity what students should know. Until a college comes together as an academic institution and addresses the question of what it means to be a college-educated individual, the curriculum will continue its expensive, chaotic expansion to the detriment of students’ intellectual development. It is totally appropriate for trustees to insist upon a requirement for every undergraduate to study the history of the United States and its institutions.

In reviewing the history program, trustees and administrators should not hesitate to ask the provost and the chairman of the history department to explain the department’s rationale for what it does and does not require of history majors. While respecting academic freedom, good academic governance prioritizes the needs of students to have a meaningful and coherent curriculum. And that means ensuring that United States history is part of the history major’s program. If ever there were an educational imperative that should claim the interest of alumni and donors, it is ensuring that college graduates understand our nation.

Alumni outcry over deficiencies in the curricula of their institutions can be a powerful force for change. Donors, as individuals or as a consortium, can create initiatives with incentives to add core requirements. In other words, their funding can be used to build the capacity to add sections of essential courses in American history and government, with the institution’s agreement that the result would be a firm requirement for history majors to study the history of the United States, enhanced with new faculty resources. That requirement should quickly extend to every student pursuing a liberal arts degree. Such donations would be a contribution not only to the alma mater but also to the nation as a whole.

‘Big History’ Kicks American History to the Back of the Class

The buzzword in education these days is “global.” Education reformers promise to prepare students for “global citizenship” with suitable work skills for a “global economy.”

Where the word “global” ascends, the word “American” tends to fade. This is true in history as well as in ideas of citizenship beamed at the young.

“Big History,” with the attendant “transnational turn” and “New World History,” delegitimizes American history as a topic of study, or even a concept.  In fact, among many historians, it is becoming politically incorrect even to speak of such a category as “American history.”

That is what I learned, oddly, at the 2014 meeting of the Organization of American Historians, which claims to be “the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history.”  New York University history professor Thomas Bender, who is credited with initiating and implementing the “transnational turn” in a series of summertime meetings at NYU’s Villa la Pietra, in Florence, Italy, in the 1990s, chaired a panel on “Internationalizing American History.”  The sole dissenter offered up Hegelian theories to make his case for the very category of “nation.”  His claims were met with skepticism and distaste by Bender and co-panelists.

Related: New History Guidelines Are Better 

My interest was in how the Advanced Placement American History was being “reframed” under the new leadership of David Coleman at the College Board.  A panel on “Teaching the Construction of Race and Slavery in the AP U.S. History Course” demonstrated that critics of the new AP course had reason to be concerned about wildly politicized lessons.

They will now need to set their sights on AP World History, as it is being revised by the new president of the World History Association, Rick Warren, the Jane and Frederic M. Hadley Chair in History at Wabash College.  Described as “an expert in the field of early modern Latin American history, and food in world history,” Warren serves on the Advanced Placement World History test development committee for the College Board.  He promises to make the test more consistent with the “trans-national, trans-regional, and trans-cultural perspective” of the Association.

Warren told the Journal Review, “World history as a practice has changed radically, moving beyond a Western Civilization focus into new territory that is sometimes called the ‘New World History.’”  The borderless regions of study as well as the new topics, such as “food,” promise to promote a global perspective, with a focus turned away from significant human events to such biological concerns as “food.”

Such a re-conceptualization is evident in the Association’s list of recommended books, which includes authors such as Arnold Toynbee and H.G. Wells, but more recent figures such as David Christian, author of Maps of Time.  Topics shift away from chronological and national categories, giving us such things as “Beyond States and Societies: Alternative Conceptions of Social Space,” “Dependency and World System Analysis,” “Migrations and Diasporas,” and “Biological Exchanges and Environmental Change.”

Related: Campus Assault on U.S. History

World History is being joined by “Big History,” a term I heard at a recent presentation on New York State’s new social studies standards.  James L. Davis, Social Studies Coordinator for the Oneida-Madison BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) remarked that teachers are beginning to experiment with Bill Gates’ money in the “Big History” movement.  (New York has adopted the Gates-supported Common Core-aligned C3 social studies standards.)

Big History’s evolutionary tinge is represented by a typical college course title: “Big History: From the Big Bang to the Blackberry.”

Big History can seem like a fun, vanity project of the world’s wealthiest man, who proclaimed in 2013, “In this version, there are no writing assignments or lesson plans. You watch lectures and experiment with interactive features.”

But in Big History the Big Questions that once intrigued the greatest philosophical minds are boiled down to two-minute video segments with New Age platitudes.  Last summer, Gates announced the winner of his video contest tackling the question, “What does it mean to be human?”  The winner (selected by a panel of teachers and students), an 18-year-old rising freshman, explained in less than two minutes with a hand drawing rapidly on a whiteboard that being human is “more than a species designation.”

She explained that humans are more evolved than ducks and elephants because humans can extend compassion beyond their immediate biological circle (protecting their own young, as ducks and elephants do) to “all of humankind,” thus sharing “an infinite circle of compassion” and demonstrating “a responsibility to ourselves, to our planet, and to each other.”  She was awarded $5,000 and a job producing videos.

The online lessons are free for teachers and students, as well as for lifelong learners.  Gates is also financing academic conferences for the International Big History Association.  The two conferences, in 2012 and 2014, drew professors and independent scholars from a wide variety of fields, including history, environmental science, geology, religion, sociology, education, and English, along with new disciplines such as “Big Politics” and “Complexity.”

Related: The Cost of Skewing U.S. History

At the 2014 conference at Dominican University in California, David Christian, professor of history at Macquarie University and president of the Association, who spearheaded the interdisciplinary approach, was the keynote speaker.  Christian, along with co-panelists Cynthia Brown of Dominican University, and Craig Benjamin of Grand Valley State University, discussed writing the first big history textbook, Big History: From Nothing to Everything.

The panel, “Transformative Learning Experience and the Little Big History Project for Secondary Students,” included papers that advocated teaching Big History in the primary grades and using “kinesthetic teaching methods.”

A panel called “Human Nature, Conflict, and Social Change” featured a “Methow Naturalist” (referring to a river and valley in northern Washington State) discussing “Big History and the End of War.”

Panels included “Theories of Thresholds,” “Cosmopolitics,” and “Contingent Time and Flow.” Panelists tackled religion: “Interpretations,” featured a paper titled, “Growing Beyond Religion: Big History and the Meaning of Life”; “Human History” featured a paper on a “Darwinian attempt” to explain witch-hunting; and on the Art panel there was “Shakespeare in the Cave: A Big History of Art.” An English professor offered a paper on “Narratives of Power” in the “Power and Social Organization” panel.  Linda Sheehan, of the Earth Law Center, presented a paper on “Big History and Earth Law” in the panel, “Big History: The View from Gaia.”

Scholars came from such places as Villanova; Georgia Gwinnett College; the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Southern Maine; California State University, Fullerton; Ewha Woman’s University (in South Korea); Volograd Centre for Social Research (in Russia); and the University of Amsterdam.

Such panels followed the general thrust of the inaugural 2012 conference, which was themed “The Reshaping of Planet Earth: Connections between Humans and the Environment in World History.”  That presidential election year saw a paper titled “On Power: George Lucas, Jerry Garcia, and Barack Obama’s Big Black Helicopters.”  Independent scholar Jeremy Lent, presented on “The Tyranny of the Prefrontal Cortex,” i.e., the seat of rationality.

In spite of the New Age-ish titles, Gates’s big capitalist company, Microsoft, is promoting its own products at the conferences.  For example, in 2012, The “Research Connections” session had this enticing description:

Zoom through time and learn about different techniques and tools for exploring the timescales of Big History with ChronoZoom. ChronoZoom is a free online timeline tool currently being developed by UC Berkeley, Moscow State University in Russia and Microsoft Research. In this session, we will demonstrate the latest features, and ask for your input and ideas. . . .

The International Big History Association offers a list of Big History college courses all over the world, including twenty U.S. institutions, ranging from Arkansas Technical University to Harvard.

Most of the courses follow in the spirit of Washington University’s BIO/EPS/PHYS L41 210A “Epic of Evolution: Life, Earth, and the Cosmos,” co-taught by faculty from departments of Biology and Earth & Planetary Science.  It promises “a study of the evolution of the Universe, Earth and life, all woven together in a narrative,” with “themes of complexity, scale, entropy and information . . . applied to the Big Bang, origins of matter, formation and history of the Earth, origins of life and diversification of species.”  That seems acceptable as a course of study, until we see how it broadens out: “We study the implications of the scientific epic for religion, philosophy, the arts and ethics.”  One recalls the paper on “Earth Law” (presumably superseding American Constitutional law) at the 2014 conference.

Big History also gives warnings about future ecological devastation. At Lewiston-Auburn College, University of Southern Maine, geographer and archeologist Barry Rodrigue and chemist Daniel Stasko teach LCC 350, “Global Past, Global Present: From the Big Bang to Globalization,” a core curriculum course, which promises to give students “a more realistic understanding of how humans fit into the vast expanse of the universe, instead of orienting the universe around humans.”  Students will be asked to “consider the challenges of modern globalization” and to pursue a “quest to develop sustainable and ethical lifestyles.”

While Big History involves scientists teaching subjects once left to those in the humanities, humanities professors also tackle Big History.  At the University of Missouri, Kevin Fernlund, Professor of History and Education, who has authored and edited books on the American West and President Lyndon Johnson, teaches HIS 1999 “Big History: From the Big Bang to the Blackberry.” It promises the usual survey of 13.7 billion years, from “the origins and evolution of the universe,” to “the evolution of life on earth, the emergence of human beings, the creation of complex societies and how they creatively expressed themselves, the impact of these societies on the environment, as well as the future of the planet.”  An important subtheme concerns “Western thought,” how “the sciences, social sciences, and the arts (or their intellectual equivalents and antecedents), have—over the past 500 years—fragmented into specializations and then gradually reunited.” HIS 1999 represents the reunification of thought “upon which students can build their future learning as well as understand their place in the story of the universe.”

No American Identity

Far-reaching speculation replaces objective and evidentiary modes of inquiry under Big History. There is an attempt to eliminate a Western, even human, perspective. Furthermore, such courses are required core courses while courses in American history are not.  The attempted evisceration of American history by such radical revisionism bodes ill for maintaining a sense of American identity, or for upholding Western civilization, for that matter.

My field is English, but by the current standards, it seems that I would be qualified to suggest readings.  Therefore, I suggest novelist Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos, in which Carl Sagan (a father figure in Big History) is brought back down to earth through gentle mockery.

Mary Grabar is a visiting fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

The New History Guidelines Are Better

I previously wrote about the new AP U.S. History guidelines (APUSH). The guidelines generated considerable criticism—in so small part because they seemed intent on evading state guidelines regarding the instruction of U.S. history. Basically: the earlier guidelines heavily emphasized themes of race, class, and gender, at the expense of more “traditional” types of U.S. history that most states expect their high school students to confront. And the earlier guidelines strongly implied that AP history teachers could teach required “skills” (such as, for instance, the “skill” of experiencing primary sources) through content as varied as the Federalist Papers or an obscure diary.

A new version of APUSH has appeared, one that responds to some of the criticism made. Below are some initial reactions.

(1) The most striking change is the insertion of a free-floating two paragraphs about founding documents, which the guidelines assert help “students better understand pivotal moments in American history.” Accordingly, the guidelines note, teachers have the option of teaching the document in depth.

This is a fairly significant change from the first APUSH version. Colorado professor Fred Anderson, co-chair of the original APUSH committee, remarked that the guidelines were designed to result in high school students “receiving instruction equivalent to lower-division history survey courses offered in university and college settings.” Since in most college history departments students can now graduate without encountering the founding documents, it seems that the APUSH modifications move away from the original goal of replacing state history standards with those more common in college history departments.

(2) The new APUSH guidelines are structured differently. The original APUSH began with a very detailed discussion of “skills,” which frequently had suggested content items attached to them, in ways that seemed to invite a trendy response. For instance, the original APUSH guidelines offered two content examples through which teachers could satisfy skill #1 (historical causation). They could examine a foundational aspect of U.S. history—the differing economic structures between North and South, balanced against the short-term congressional gridlock that led to the Civil War. Or they could “explore the roots of the modern environmental movement in the Progressive Era and the New Deal, as well as debate underlying and proximate causes of environmental catastrophes arising from pesticide use and offshore oil drilling.” The implication—whether intended or not—is that as long as students mastered the “skill,” it didn’t matter if they did so through understanding the political and economic background to the Civil War or through examining the history of environmental catastrophes.

The newer version dramatically decreases the pages devoted to “skills” from nine to two, a welcome shift in guidelines for a course that ends with a content-based exam. It also shies away from offering trendy content examples to how teachers could satisfy the skills. As with the reference to founding documents, this change is welcome.

(3) The guidelines’ second section consists of seven “thematic learning objectives.” Three of these (politics and power; America and the world; and work, exchange, and technology) are unchanged. The other four themes have shifted, all in commendable ways:

“Identity” in the original version has become “American and national identity,” a significant, and welcome, narrowing of the concept. The change would suggest that identity-politics content wouldn’t satisfy the new learning objective.

“Peopling” has become “migration and settlement”; and “Ideas, belief, and culture” has become “culture and society.” It’s unlikely either of these will shift, but the more precise language is welcome.

Finally, “environment and geography—physical and human” in the original version has become “geography and the environment.” Starting with geography is welcome, as is the deletion of the “human” angle, which seemed to invite teachers to diminish emphasis on more traditional aspects of geography, which already get short shrift in contemporary public education.

In short, these thematic alterations feature more precise wording and closer alignment with the objectives of most states’ history curricula. And more generally, they lessen (though don’t entirely avoid) a major problem of the original APUSH, which seemed to pick out random people or events in American history and suggest these items were equally important so, say, Benjamin Franklin or Marbury v. Madison.

(4) The content section divides U.S. history into nine periods in both versions. The most controversial change from the original APUSH, which remains in the new version, was the inclusion of a section covering the years from 1491-1607 (to cover 5 percent of the course). That section remains.

Historians, of course, always look back in time, so there’s nothing intellectually objectionable to this material. Indeed, the APUSH designers could have gone back further—to the Vikings, perhaps, or to the Magna Carta. But the inclusion has a practical effect. Moving 5 percent of a course to the pre-1607 period means deleting 5 percent of the post-1607 content. Starting so much earlier also increases the chances that the course will rush through more recent U.S. history. The guidelines suggest 5 percent to the post-1980 period—arguably not enough space, given that a typical student in a AP history course this fall likely would have only faint memory of Barack Obama’s election, no or virtually no memory of 9/11 or the invasion of Iraq, and no memory of the fall of communism, the AIDS epidemic, the debate over apartheid, a world without the internet, the Reagan presidency, or any other aspect of 1980s history. And as anyone who’s ever taught a history survey knows, in-course adjustment means rushing through the very late stages, all the more so given that fluke weather or budgetary reasons sometimes ,leads to slight shortening of the school year.

So it would have been far better for the APUSH guidelines to ensure recent history got sufficient coverage. I’ll have some additional comments on content in a future post.

Patrick Deneen On Georgetown’s Fuzzy American History

Patrick Deneen, professor of government at Georgetown and founder of Georgetown’s Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, spoke September 23rd at a luncheon in New York sponsored by the Manhattan Institute’s Center for the American University. The following is an excerpt. The full text will appear in the winter issue of The New Atlantis.

“Today many university students are taught little to nothing about the Constitution, much less its philosophical and even theological underpinnings. If anything, they are either taught to see its constraints as obstacles to be overcome, or simply to understand it as a “living” document that reflects the sentiments of the day. At Georgetown, where I teach, there is one course in American history – actually called “History of the Atlantic” – that can be taken to fulfill one of the core course requirements in History. This course focuses primarily on issues of race, gender, and colonialism, briefly touching on the Atlantic Revolutions, and at no time on the American Founding. However a disproportionately large amount of time is spent exploring American exploitation. Implicitly our students are taught that the official claims of the Founders were so much deceptive rhetoric, that they employed rationalizations to cover their fundamental will to power. By implication, will to power is the sole identifiable motivation of human beings, and to accept the notion that we are to be governed by a law above ourselves is simply to be a dupe or a patsy. They are not told that the Constitution lays out not only the basic structures of government, but does so in a manner that acknowledges our perpetual need for the lessons of self-restraint through the rule of law.”