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The Wisdom of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

The full text of this lecture may be found here.

You are cordially invited to IWP’s annual Constitution Day Lecture
on the topic of

The Wisdom of the Declaration of Independence
and the Constitution

Dr. Mackubin Thomas Owens
Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor, IWP

Wednesday, September 16
4:30 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, D.C.
Parking map


In a fragment composed probably in 1860, Abraham Lincoln reflected on the relationship between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Using Proverbs 25:11 as his text (“a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”), Lincoln concludes that the Declaration’s principle of “liberty for all” is the apple of gold and that the Constitution is the frame of silver, subsequently framed around it, not to conceal or destroy the apple “but to adorn, and preserve it.” The picture was made for the apple-not the apple for the picture. “So let us act, that neither picture, [n]or apple, shall ever be blurred, or broken.”

One of the reasons that the Constitution is under attack today is that the link that Lincoln identified has been broken. If we wish to recover constitutional republican government, we must first recover that link.

Mackubin Owens 400x500Dr. Mackubin Thomas Owens is Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor at The Institute of World Politics. He is a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in Philadelphia, and editor of Orbis, FPRI’s quarterly journal. He recently retired as Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. At the War College he specialized in the planning of US strategy and forces, especially naval and power projection forces; the political economy of national security; national security organization; strategic geography; and American civil-military relations. From 1990 to 1997, Dr. Owens was Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly defense journal Strategic Review and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at Boston University.

Before joining the faculty of the War College, Dr. Owens served as National Security Adviser to Senator Bob Kasten, Republican of Wisconsin, and Director of Legislative Affairs for the Nuclear Weapons Programs of the Department of Energy during the Reagan Administration. Dr. Owens is also a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, where as an infantry platoon and company commander in 1968-1969, he was wounded twice and awarded the Silver Star medal. He retired as a Colonel in 1994.

Dr. Owens earned his Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Dallas, a Master of Arts in Economics from Oklahoma University, and his BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has taught at the University of Rhode Island, the University of Dallas, Catholic University, Ashland University of Ohio, and the Marine Corps’ School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW).