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The Key ‘Lessons in Liberty’



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Historic leaders often share something important in common. They are not born great. Their greatness is a result of a lifetime of difficulty and consequential choices.

Lessons in Liberty applies that to ten Americans

As Jeremy S. Adams discussed in his book, “Lessons in Liberty,” this is especially true for remarkable Americans. In the book, Adams details the inspiring lives of extraordinary Americans and what we can learn from them today.

George Washington, for example, struggled his entire life to keep his temper under control. This lifelong effort made him a model for discipline and restraint. Clara Barton nursed her badly injured brother back to health when she was only 11 years old. This harrowing experience later equipped her with the skills and bravery to serve as a nurse in the Civil War. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye was a 17-year-old Japanese American who lived in Hawaii when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The sneak attack angered him so much he joined the U.S. Army to fight in World War II. Despite discrimination and hardship from the U.S. government, Inouye became a highly decorated soldier and longtime U.S. Senator.

I spoke with Adams about his book on a recent episode of Newt’s World. He is a serious scholar and educator. He teaches social studies and political science to highschoolers and students at the University of California at Bakersfield. He was the Daughters of the American Revolution 2014 California Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teachers of America Award.

Too few people are learning those lessons

We talked about the personal wisdom of Washington, Barton, Inouye, and other extraordinary Americans. Adams said in his book that Americans need to “honor what is honorable, praise what is praiseworthy, and most of all, emulate which is highest and best, so we can take advantage of the miracle of human freedom.” While no historic figure is perfect, their fallibility makes them so worthy of our study.


Unfortunately, many young students in America are not learning about our great historical figures. Forty percent of Gen-Z members characterize the founding fathers as villains. Fifty percent of high schoolers say that their lives have little to no meaning, and only 52 percent of Americans would be willing to fight to defend the country.

Something disturbing is happening in classrooms across our country. Our nation’s young people are being influenced by viewpoints, values, and behaviors of people who hate America and the principles on which it was founded. As President Ronald Reagan said, “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Each generation has a duty to renew and protect America and its values.

America is bigger than one ideology

As we discussed on the podcast, America is also bigger than a singular party. It is bigger than any ideology. We are more than just Republicans or Democrats. We were more than federalists or anti-federalists. We are all Americans. The 10 men and women Adams discussed in his book were from different time periods and backgrounds. Some were liberal and some were conservative. But they all worked to make America great.

Importantly, none of them were personally born great. Their greatness was a choice. That is the key lesson of liberty.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolicy and made available via RealClearWire.

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Speaker Newt Gingrich is Chairman of Gingrich 360, a multimedia production and consulting company based in Arlington, Virginia. As former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich is well known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994, creating the first conservative majority in the House in 40 years. He was a Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2012.

Gingrich is a Fox News contributor, podcast host (Newt’s World), and syndicated columnist. He is the author of 41 books, including 18 fiction and nonfiction New York Times bestsellers. His latest books include Beyond Biden: Rebuilding the America We Love and Trump and the American Future: Solving the Great Problems of Our Time.

Gingrich and his wife, Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. Recent films include “The First American” and “Divine Mercy: The Canonization of John Paul II.”

Recognized internationally as an expert on world history, military issues, and international affairs, Newt Gingrich is the longest-serving teacher of the Joint War Fighting course for Major Generals. He also teaches officers from all six services as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Professor at the National Defense University. In addition, Newt Gingrich served as a Member of the Defense Policy Board. He was a member of the Terrorism Task Force for the Council on Foreign Relations, and he co-chaired the Task Force on United Nations Reform, a bipartisan congressional effort to modernize and improve the United Nations.


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