Dr. Ron F. Docksai; Reston, Virginia;
March 9, 2015
Serious academics and Western Civilization scholars remember him for Henry Paolucci’s(1926-2012) incomparable translations into English of Augustine; Machiavelli; Marsiglio of Padua and the other founding fathers of modern politics. A legacy in itself is what he left behind after teachingcomparative literature as well as ancient Greek and Roman history at Iona College, Brooklyn College and City College prior to his coming to St. John's University’s faculty in 1967; and where he taught until 1999.
Students of my generation, drawn to politics or historical studies during the 1960s through the 1980s because of Henry Paolucci, have a different take. In my case, arriving as a tentative political science major at St. John’s the year Dr. Paolucci began teaching there; my intellectual life began. Henry inspired us to seek public service for its own sake. He appealed to inherent first principles and ideals in a young conservative generation not otherwise recognized by society much less celebrated. Within and also outside the classroom, Henry brought to life American exceptionalism and federalism in the tempo and language of young people to whom he appealed. Paolucci’s collaborative appeals to students’ idealism and our inherent desire to serve a cause other than just ourselves was one beaming point of light against the gray skies of the media created image of a Woodstock generation. Paolucci’s home grown conservative philosophy celebrated the works and thought of Walter Bagehot, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Michels and lesser known but equally august builders of American patriotism.
Long ago, professors often had different points of view. Before this 21st century’s baptism of academic intolerance on America’s campuses, people who taught college would actually debate one another. Fortuitous that Henry Paolucci was in his prime during those decades, and it was a privilege bordering on a guilty pleasure to watch him perform. Having run as the New York Conservative Party’s candidate for U.S. Senator against Robert F. Kennedy in 1964; and then decades earlier serving our nation as a U.S. Air Force navigator and WW II supervisor of an Italian prisoner of war camp in Italy; Dr. Paolluci wasn’t afraid of anything. Neither gun shy nor rhetorically sparing in talking down an opponent, he was not what you would expect from someone so otherwise mentally disciplined and intellectually erudite. Some of the biggest media names in genteel liberal society including the late J.K. Galbraithe, David Susskind, and Clinton Rossiter, et al made the trip to St. John’s in the middle of Queens only to get uprooted by this little Italian professor whom they soon recognized was actually eight feet tall and could breathe fire. Brings to mind the great Mike Tyson’s observation, “Everybody always has a plan, and then they get hit in the mouth.”
I was more than privileged to have known Dr. Henry Paolucci, who directed my life to the better. I am one of many similarly inspired former students for whom Henry’s spirit lives on as the better parts of our nature.
The below text is from
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
The Henry Paolucci/Walter Bagehot Book Award Booklet
Click HERE to watch Henry's Memorial Video.
It is only fitting that the award commemorating the life and work of Henry Paolucci should also carry the name of Walter Bagehot - bringing into sharp focus a true partnership of mind and soul.
In the late sixties, Professor Paolucci established The Walter Bagehot Research Council on National Sovereignty (a not-for-profit educational foundation), named after the great British political economist and man of letters, Walter Bagehot, who founded and edited for many years The Economist, one of the most important journals of the time, and who also wrote many literary essays.
For many years, Professor Paolucci helped organize Bagehot Council lectures and panels at the annual American Political Science Association annual meetings, encouraging younger scholars to participate and find their place in the academic community. In 1969, The Bagehot Council became the publisher for the State of Nation - a political newsletter dedicated primarily to current issues dealing with American domestic and foreign policy. Paolucci continued to publish SN through 1980,servig as its chief editor and major contributor. The monthly series deals with some of the most dramatic events and major "players" of a difficult period on American history, viewed from a keen long-range historical perspective. At this distance in time, those assessments, unlike most of the journalistic reporting of the time, take on a clarity that seems prophetic. The entire series is well worth preserving; portions, in fact, have already appeared in recent publications of GHP.
His books, like the early classic, War, Peace and the Presidency (1969), and his last, Iran Israel and the United States (1995), are indicators of his extraordinary grasp of political matters and display the range and accuracy of his political insights. Since his death, in 1990, a number of Professor Paolucci's out-of-print books, as well as works not published during his lifetime, have been edited by his wife Anne Paolucci and published by Griffin House Publications. Through an agreement between GHP and Council on National Literatures (founded in 1975) these reprints and new additions to Professor Paolucci's long list of books and articles are being made available, free of charge, to major libraries here and abroad.
Henry Paolucci was without a doubt the best disciple of Walter Bagehot. Like Bagehot, he had a wide mastery of political thought and knew how to bring the past into present political realities. But his intellectual interests included much else. He was an avid reader of Aristotle, Plato, Hegel, Einstein, Newton, Adolf Harnack, Dante, T.S. Eliot, Francesco De Sanctis, St. Augustine, Machiavelli, Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile, as well as Bagehot himself, and pursued subjects as diverse as astronomy, mathematics, literary theory, political philosophy, Greek and Roman history, Christian dogma, church history, the history of Jews, American history and foreign policy.
In recent years he had found a new scholarly focus: the age of European discovery and early American exploration, especially the massive work of Justin Winsor - first librarian of Harvard, founder of the American Library Association, and co-founder of the American Historical Association - an interest reflected in several volumes of Review of National Literatures, which he edited with his wife Anne.
His impeccable scholarship in all these subjects and his dedication to learning will long be remembered by those who were privileged to hear him the classroom and in public forums; but they are clearly in evidence, as well, in his books, articles, and speeches, some of which have been gathered in a collection published in 2000: Selected Writings on Literature and the Arts; Science and Astronomy; Law, Government, and Political Philosophy - a sampling which also reflects his literary flair.
In 1964, he was asked by William F. Buckley to accept the NYS Conservative Party nomination for the U.S. Senate, as the high-profile third candidate, running against Kenneth Keating and Robert F. Kennedy. His stimulating speeches, debates, and interviews drew considerable interest and brought the newly-formed Party into prominence as a result of his vigorous campaign, during which he was featured by The New York Times as "The Scholarly Candidate." In 1995, the Party honored him with its prestigious Kieran O'Doherty Award.
At the time of his death, on January 1, 1999, Henry Paolucci had been retired for eight years from St. John's University as Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics and still served as Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party of NYS.
The New York State Conservative Party and Professor Henry Paolucci
Remembered by Michael R. Long, State Chairman
The year was 1964. The Goldwater campaign caught my attention to get involved in politics. Seeing that the Rockefeller machine was working against the candidacy of Barry Goldwater, after the Republican National Convention, my wife Eileen and I changed our registration to the newly-formed New York State Conservative Party founded in 1962.
Shortly after joining the Conservative Party in 1964, I became aware of Professor Henry Paolucci from Iona College. He was running for United States Senate against Robert Kennedy and Senator Kenneth Keating on the Conservative Party line. Henry was passionate, fierce and unabashedly conservative. While he didn’t win the election, he won the hearts and minds of many of the young activists of the newly founded Conservative Party.
His race for United States Senate helped to establish the party as a force to be reckoned with. In 1968 I became a member of the state committee, where I had the opportunity to really get to know Professor Paolucci, who was now a Vice Chairman of the party. I watched him speak out at our state meetings, no cause or issue was too big or too small for Henry to challenge the leadership of the party in the most constructive way.
Professor Paolucci became a mentor, a father figure, and an advisor to many of the new leaders and activists from around the state. I was honored to accept his council and advice. As I look back on the years that Henry served as one of the statewide leaders, it became evident to me that he helped mold many of our members in the party, including myself. His optimism and idealism helped hold the party together in the very early days.
I was privileged to have access to him and I enjoyed spending countless hours with him at his home and on the phone seeking his advice. He never turned down anybody seeking his council. He was always there when one of the leaders of the party needed him.
All of us know as the years went by, he was more than just a political visionary; he was an author, a poet, a scholar. When things seemed to become difficult he was always there to lift our spirits and provided us with the courage to move on.
It’s evident his candidacy for U.S. Senate and his years that he served as Vice Chairman of the party served as an inspiration to many of the party leaders up and down the state of New York. He truly had an impact on the history of the New York State Conservative Party and New York State politics.
After a BS degree from The City College of New York (1942), Paolucci joined the US Air Force as a navigator. He flew many missions over Africa and Italy. Toward the end of the war, he was placed in charge of 10,000 German prisoners and in that capacity remained in Italy for over a year. When he returned to New York, he resumed his education and received the MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. In 1948 he was chosen Eleanora Duse Traveling Fellow in Columbia University and spent a year studying in Florence, Italy. In 1951, he returned to Italy as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Rome.
His wide range of intellectual interests was reflected in the variety of subjects he taught, including Greek and Roman history at Iona College, Brooklyn College, and The City College; a graduate course in Dante and Medieval Culture at Columbia University (at the invitation of the President of Columbia at the time, Nicholas Murray Butler); and, from 1968 to 1991, undergraduate and graduate courses in U.S. foreign policy, political theory, St. Augustine, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hegel, astronomy and modern science at St. John's University, New York, where he helped design an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary Doctor of Arts Degree Program in History, Sociology, and Government and Politics.
On his own initiative, he became proficient in Greek, Arab, and Jewish texts. He translated several important works, including Cesare Beccaria's On Crimes and Punishments; Machiavelli's bitter play, Mandragola (first published in 1957, with a fine introduction placing this late work in Machiavelli's political spectrum), still in print; and sections of Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art in Hegel on the Arts. Among his other works are The Achievement of Galileo (with his original translations of a number of important pieces for inclusion in the work); Maitland's Justice and Police; The Political Writings of St. Augustine; and a unique anthology on dramatic theory drawn from Hegel's entire opus into a single volume, Hegel on Tragedy. (first published as an Anchor Book by Doubleday Co, then as a Torch Book by Harper and Row, later in a hard-bound edition by Greenwood Press [still in print], and recently in a new paperback edition by GHP). His keen analysis of political affairs and US foreign policy are still available in the classic War, Peace and the Presidency (1968), A Brief History of Political Thought and Statecraft (1979), Kissinger's War (1980), Zionism, the Superpowers, and the P.L.O. (1964) and Iran, Israel, and the United States (1995).
Like Walter Bagehot himself, Henry Paolucci was also a literary man. After Dane, and perhaps in a more personal way, James Thomson, author of The City of Dreadful Night, was his favorite poet. He was also familiar with the works of Giacomo Leopardi, the major European writers of the Romantic age, Greek and Latin philosophers and the writings of the Church Fathers - as well as the work of Harnack, Caspar, and other great scholars of Church history. At the time of his death he was still active as Chief Researcher and Feature Writer for the international annual publications of Council on National Literatures, Review of National Literatures and CNL/World Report.
A frequent contributor to the Op Ed pages of the New York Times and magazines like National Review and Il Borghese (Rome), Professor Paolucci was also a lover of Brahms, Schuber, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, as well as Scott Joplin and others of that period. He also found occasion, over the years, to develop his own musical skills, especially as a composer. A number of his hunting melodies were used in Anne Paolucci's videoplay Cipango!