Tribute to Stephen Tonsor
Regional Meeting in Pittsburgh
October 14, 2006
Dear Friends and worthy contenders:
I wish above all to express my appreciation and gratitude for the honor you are showing me. I owe all of you, and especially Bill Campbell, thanks for this special day. I deeply regret that physical frailty prevents me from participation in this meeting and I ask your forgiveness for being absent.
I hope that you will enjoy and benefit from Pittsburgh, as I have so often in the past. I call your attention especially to Pittsburgh's great neo-gothic architecture in the Heinz Memorial Chapel, the Church of the Redeemer and the First Presbyterian Church. Architecturally they preserve the unity of Christianity and the Taize Chapel in the Presbyterian Church will enable you to share in the ecumenical spirit of Taize just as Benedict XVI has done.
The historical importance of Pittsburgh was first systematically explored by Francis Parkman. Parkman has stood at the center of my attention for many years, both as one of the greatest American historians and as a Conservative without equal in the American past. When Parkman was not preoccupied with the American past, most of which he had explored geographically on foot, he was busy writing Conservative tracts (for which he is now little recognized). He was, moreover, one of the great gardeners of his century. He was, unlikely as it may seem, a professor of horticulture at Harvard and an early breeder of lilies. His magnificent roses decorated the great houses of Boston.
It seems to me proper that as you visit Pittsburgh, you call to mind Parkman, the first great historian of Pittsburgh. You may wish to remember him as the greatest single Conservative writer and campaigner in the late 19th century.
Stephen J. Tonsor