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In the midst of animated partisan argument on Prohibition, in and out of Congress, President Lowell's article in the current Atlantic Monthly strikes a clear and thoughtful note. Occupying a key position in American intellectual life, a university president has opportunities to observe what is really going on among those who lead public opinion, and to take a detached and impartial point of view. In strong contrast to such an attitude is that of the American legislator, who has to think continually of several hundred thousand constituents and ordinarily feels compelled to share their prejudices and reduce his intellectual level to theirs.
Thus with the growing importance of the university the intelligent public looks more and more to its educational rather than to its political leaders for truly constructive criticism. Wilson became famous as the head of a large university. More recently President Butler of Columbia has been continually active in the affairs of his party, and his utterances and writings have had much influence among Republicans in the East. President Aydelotte of Swarthmore not only runs a coeducational college and supervises the Rhodes Scholar selections, but is active in the cause of world peace. Here in Massachusetts when the Governor desired an impartial committee to review the Sacco-Vanzetti case, two of the three men chosen were the heads of the most important educational institutions in the state.
"Let us now praise famous men," is the burden of Kipling's song of the glory of teachers of the country. Famous they may be for their service in their own province, but more surely are they famous when they turn their methods of scholarly analysis to the practical problems of state. It was President Eliot who earned the title of "First Citizen of the Land" by his active interest in public affairs. Now we have not one, but many, who might qualify from their double function as university heads and valuable public servants.
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