On October 7, 2017, Jonathan Fanton introduced the 2017 Induction Ceremony held at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, MA. The ceremony featured historical readings by Kenneth Wallach (Central National Gottesman Inc.) and Diane Wood (U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit), as well as a performance by the Boston Children’s Chorus. It also included presentations by five new members: Ursula Burns (Xerox Corporation), James P. Allison (University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center), Heather Gerken (Yale Law School), Jane Mayer (The New Yorker), and Gerald Chan (Morningside Group).
Let me add my warm welcome to the Class of 2017, and to your families and friends who have joined us to celebrate this special occasion.
The Academy benefits from the wise and dedicated leadership of its Officers, members of the Academy Board, Council, and Trust. As a result of their efforts, the American Academy is a thriving institution. We are grateful for all that they do, and particularly for the leadership and encouragement of the new Chair of our Board, Nancy Andrews.
I would also like to thank our previous Chair, Don Randel, for his friendship and dedication to this institution over the past four years.
The Academy was founded in 1780, during the American Revolution, by John Adams and 62 other scholar-patriots who understood that the new republic would require new institutions to gather knowledge and advance learning in service to the public good.
Adams dreamed that there would be a scholarly academy in every state. As in so many initiatives of the Revolutionary period, Massachusetts took the lead, incorporating Adams’s vision into its foundational documents.
The Massachusetts Constitution was drafted in 1780 and remains the oldest functioning written constitution in the world. Adams and his colleagues included a section called “The Encouragement of Literature, etc.”
“Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties…it shall be the duty of legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them…to encourage private societies and public institutions…for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, and good humor, and all social affections and generous sentiments, among the people.”