Clyde Ray: Defining Statesmanship

Washington's triumphal entry, New York City, November 25, 1783

Defining Statesmanship: A Comparative Political Theory Analysis

By Clyde Ray


Defining StatesmanshipJMC fellow Clyde Ray has recently written a book on the concept of statesmanship and how it has been viewed from Plutarch to the modern day:

Statesmanship is a concept frequently invoked but seldom defined in contemporary political discourse. In this book, Clyde Ray examines ancient, medieval, and modern versions of the idea by considering a range of thinkers that have given thought to the concept. From Plutarch to Saint Augustine to Jane Addams, Ray provides fresh insight on the topic by identifying the core features of effective political leadership. More than a historical analysis, these case studies in statesmanship provide citizens today with a vocabulary for identifying and debating the characteristics of this time-honored but often obscure term. In a time when many citizens long for more dignified leadership, Defining Statesmanship offers a timely reflection on this timeless political idea.

“While there may be an inherent tension between constitutionalism and statesmanship, in historical reality the two cannot do without one another. There will always be a need for fresh vision and initiative coming from outside the routine operation of the system. But no statesman can be trusted to rule wisely without the institutional checks and guard rails that a good constitution provides. There is no abstract formula for statesmanship; it always depends on the particular circumstances with which the statesman must wrestle. Hence the wisdom of Clyde Ray’s taut and nicely focused study, which understands that the study of statesmanship must always be grounded, as this book is, in the ideas and deeds of actual statesmen. Yet it also takes into account the fact that precedent is not everything, and that the next generation of statesmen and women may represent something entirely new, something we have never seen before. Such is the nature of this fascinating beast.”
Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma

The book is due for release in December 2019. Preorder from Rowman & Littlefield or Amazon >>



Clyde RayClyde Ray is a Visiting Instructor of Political Science at Brevard College. He was previously a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Political Science at Duke University, and completed his Ph.D. in political science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Professor Ray is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Clyde Ray >>



Facebook iconTwitter iconFollow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about lectures, publications, podcasts, and events related to American political thought, United States history, and the Western political tradition!



Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.