About the Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series

What Is It?

The Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series provides nationally and internationally renowned speakers and free-market economists a forum to present important issues to business leaders, college students and the general public. The series regularly attracts a great deal of local and national media attention. Attendance ranges from 300 to 900 guests.


There are two basic formats for the lecture series. The first is the standard speech format for which lasts 30 minutes or so, followed by 10 to 15 minutes of questions and answers. The second format is a "conversation" between the speaker and NCPA President John Goodman or NCPA Board Chairman Gov. Pete du Pont, which includes questions discussed in advance. This format was used for events with Milton and Rose Friedman, Justice Clarence Thomas, President Ford, Queen Noor of Jordan, Walter Cronkite and Fed Barnes/Morton Kondracke.

Who Benefits?

In addition to participating in the lecture series, the speaker meets with the Hatton W. Sumners scholars following the luncheon. This private briefing is an invaluable experience for the students who get to discuss public policy with some of the most influential policy makers. The Sumners Foundation awards scholarships "to encourage the study, teaching, and research into the science and art of self-government, to the end that the American people may understand the fundamental principles of democracy and be guided thereby in shaping governmental policies."

About the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation

A Foundation for the Study and Teaching of the Science of Self-Government.

The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation was established in 1949 by Hatton W. Sumners, United States Congressman from Texas. The Foundation is pleased to have provided the grant to the National Center for Policy Analysis for the Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series.

The purpose of the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, as stated in its governing instrument is, "...to encourage the study, teaching and research into the science and art of self-government, to the end that the American people may understand the fundamental principles of democracy and be guided thereby in shaping governmental policies."

To that end, the Foundation supports scholarship programs in related disciplines, as well as lectures, seminars, academic contests and other educational programs on the fundamental principles of American self-government and free enterprise and when appropriate, their relationships with current public policy issues.

Who is Hatton W. Sumners?

First elected to Congress in 1912, Hatton W. Sumners represented the people of Texas and the Fifth Congressional District until his voluntary retirement in 1947. From his "ring-side" seat in Washington, Hatton Sumners participated in the unfolding drama of American Democracy during the first half of the 20th Century, a period which encompassed the Great Depression, two World Wars and dramatic changes in the scope and role of government in American life.

His role was not that of a spectator, but as a decision-maker, policy-formulator and House leader through the crucial period from the first administration of President Woodrow Wilson to the end of his congressional service 34 years later.

A man of great moral courage and a sincere and deep spiritual conviction, Congressman Sumners was no ordinary public servant. During his 16 year tenure as chairman of the powerful House Committee on the Judiciary, he acquired a justly deserved reputation as the greatest constitutional lawyer in Congress. It was common knowledge that he was in line for the next appointment to the Supreme Court until his deeply-rooted beliefs in the Constitution and the separation of powers caused him to lead the successful opposition to President Roosevelt's plan to pack the Supreme Court in 1937.

Although best known for his role in the court fight, Congressman Summers' enduring legacy is found in his life-long belief in the threat to liberty posed by a too powerful Washington bureaucracy, and in the critical importance to American constitutional government of an informed citizenry that actively participates in the affairs of State.

By this luncheon and those that will follow, we hope to make a positive contribution to Congressman Sumners' dream of reawakening the American People to their responsibilities of self-determination and self-government.

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