The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Elected Officials and Candidates

Character in Politics with Ramesh Ponnuru, Visiting Fellow, AEI

On Wednesday, October 3rd, Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at the National Review and visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, reflected on the influence of character in politics to a packed audience at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy.

“I’m going to remember to turn off my phone in case the President texts me again,” he mused before launching into speech on the importance of a politician’s integrity, as well as their character flaws. “To what extent does the character of a public servant matter?” he asked the audience.

Mr. Ponnuru reflected that he has watched the two parties flip their position on politicians’ character. Over the past few years, conservatives have seemed to find a new sense of realism when assessing public servants. While on the left, “there is a new and real sensitivity to character flaws” notably since the #MeToo movement.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Salmon P. Chase, Class of 1826

This article is part of a series recognizing Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

A graduate of the Class of 1826, Salmon P. Chase is one of just three people to have served as a state governor and in all three branches of the United States government. After practicing law in Cincinnati, Chase entered public service: he served as U.S. Senator from Ohio, Governor of Ohio, U.S. Secretary of Treasury, and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chase is perhaps best remembered for his contributions to the Union during the Civil War, during which he served as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. His efforts in this office are remembered to this day: Chase Bank, founded in 1877 and still in operation today, was named in honor of Chase and his help in financing the Union.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Levi Woodbury, Class of 1809

This article is part of a series recognizing Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

Born in Francestown, New Hampshire in 1789, Levi Woodbury arrived Dartmouth College at the age of sixteen in 1806. Little is known about Woodbury during his time at Dartmouth. There is record like many of his contemporaries, that he helped pay for his tuition by teaching school in the neighboring towns around Hanover. Having graduated with honors in 1809, he traveled to Connecticut to study law at Tapping Reeve, America’s first law school. He didn’t stay long in Litchfield; before the year was over Woodbury returned home to hang out his shingle. At just twenty-two, he was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar, which allowed him to establish a small law office.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: George Higgins Moses, Class of 1890

This article is part of a series recognizing Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

Few senators are entrusted with the range of leadership positions George Higgins “Mose” Moses (R-NH) attained during his fifteen years in public office. Born in Maine but an adopted son of New Hampshire, Moses gained a reputation in the Granite State through devotion to local journalism and unwavering support for the state’s Republican Party. Fluent in French and Greek with a skillful command of text-book Latin, even his detractors characterized him as the most gifted classical scholar to graduate from Dartmouth by 1890.

A Constitution Day Conversation with Senator Kelly Ayotte

In honor of Constitution Day, the Nelson Rockefeller Center hosted a conversation — touching on federalism and polarization in politics — between former Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and research assistant professor Dr. Herschel Nachlis. Senator Ayotte is this year’s Perkins Bass Distinguished Visitor, an honor bestowed annually on a New Hampshire citizen who has made or is making an outstanding contribution in the field of government.

During her opening remarks, Ayotte paid homage to her friend and mentor the late Senator John McCain. She lamented the fact that American politics today is “not just in a place where we disagree with people, we have to insult them too,” urging the audience to follow McCain’s example and treat with respect those with whom they disagree. Compromise is both necessary and commendable, she said. Without either, the Constitution would have been impossible; the founders did not agree on everything.

The value of cooperation in politics is something that she grew to appreciate as she transitioned from serving as Attorney General for New Hampshire to representing the state in the United States Senate.

An Interview with Political Writer Lisa Lerer

Lisa Lerer is a national political writer at the Associated Press (AP), where she was a lead reporter covering the 2016 U.S. presidential race and its aftermath. She has reported in Washington for 10 years, covering the White House, elections, Congress and lobbying for the AP, Politico, Businessweek and Bloomberg News. Her work has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Slate, Fortune and the American Lawyer, where she covered business and legal issues. She appears regularly on PBS’s “Washington Week,” CNN’s “Inside Politics,” Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” NPR, and other programs.

This year, Lerer gave the Bernard D. Nossiter ’47 Lecture on “A Second Suffrage: How Women are Remaking American Politics in the Trump Era.” Before her lecture, Lerer sat down with Lauren Bishop ’19 for an interview and took a closer look at the upcoming midterm elections.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Thaddeus Stevens, Class of 1814

This article is part of a series of articles honoring Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

A man of single-minded purpose, Thaddeus Stevens, Dartmouth class of 1814, spent his life vehemently fighting for racial and social equality in America. Historian Hans Trefousse noted in a biography on Stevens that he "was one of the most influential representatives ever to serve in Congress.” According to Trefousse, Stevens “dominated the House with his wit, knowledge of parliamentary law, and sheer willpower….” However, Trefousse also concludes that Stevens’ influence was often limited by his extremism.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Perkins Bass, Class of 1934

This article is part of a series of articles honoring Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

The first time I encountered the Perkins Bass name was in the library, on a poster advertising an event featuring Kelly Ayotte, a former Senator and attorney general for New Hampshire. I didn’t think much of it until I started doing research for the Public Service Legacy Project a few months later, when the pieces of the Bass story of public service began to click together.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Fred H. Brown, Class of 1903

This article is part of a series honoring Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

It is not often that a college dropout becomes a U.S. Attorney, governor, and United States Senator from the state where he or she grew up. Fred. H. Brown ’03, spent just one academic year at Dartmouth College, but would eventually receive an honorary degree from the College upon his election to the governorship of New Hampshire in 1923 and appointment as an Ex-Officio Trustee.

During his single year at Dartmouth, Brown played on the varsity baseball team. According to sources at the time, Brown was “one of the best catchers that ever donned a Dartmouth uniform.” One of Brown’s fondest memories at Dartmouth consisted of a rematch game against Williams College. Bolstered by support and enthusiasm from a surprise showing of over 200 Dartmouth students who drove all the way from White River Junction in support their team, Dartmouth defeated Williams 11-2.

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Edwin Dooley, Class of 1927

This article is part of a series honoring Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

As Eddie Dooley graduated from Dartmouth in 1927, he was known better as a football star than a potential civil servant. At a time when the sport of football was rapidly gaining popularity, Dooley was ahead of the curve in both his performance and his study of the game. He was an All-American quarterback, nicknamed “Death Dooley” for his killer instinct on the field. However, his real lasting legacy on the game of football is the advent of specialist coaches observing the game from high above the field. Dooley was an early pioneer in football strategy whose advancements are vital to the playing of the game today. Contemporary greats like Tom Brady have Eddie Dooley to thank for changing the way that the game is observed, analyzed, and played. 

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