Schlesinger, Arthur, Jr., National Humanities Medal, 1998
The testing and triumph of democracy against its totalitarian foes, the leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt as a symbol for the new power of women in the 20th century.
"The central political drama of the 20th century has been the testing and
triumph of liberal democracy against its totalitarian foes, fascism and communism. One reason, and an indispensable one, for the survival of democracy is the quality of its leadership. It would seem to me that the National Time Capsule should include something symbolizing the significance, vitality and necessity of strong and wise democratic leadership in the centuries to come.
"...the model democratic leader of the 20th century was of course
D. Roosevelt. He led the republic successfully through the worst depression of our history and the greatest war of our history. If the Capsule covers the entire millennium then Lincoln would be the obvious candidate. In any case, I would think that the Time capsule must contain some item recognizing the vital importance to democracy's future of the intelligence, resourcefulness, passion and commitment with which Lincoln/FDR confronted challenges to democracy in their own times. If FDR is the choice, you might want also to bring in Eleanor Roosevelt as an acknowledgment of the new power of women in the 20th century.
"...it does seem to me of utmost importance affirm and honor the role
of leadership in the survival and strengthening of democracy."