Editors’ note: The following is an edited version of remarks delivered at the Coolidge Foundation’s annual New York Dinner on December 7, 2021.

How remarkable it is that many young Americans are able to take four full years out of their lives, at a crucially formative moment between the grind of high school and the gathering responsibilities of adult life, to explore the world they will inherit, in an environment of free inquiry! How extraordinary that we as a people devote such immense resources to college education and attach so high a value to it! It is easy to forget that our belief in the value of college has been a distinguishing feature of American life from the start—that it has been and remains one of the pillars of what we may with pride call our American civilization.

After they built a few crude homes...


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