Russell Kirk

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Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk (1918-1994), a founder of the modern conservative movement in the United States, was born in Plymouth, Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State College in 1940 and received his M.A. in history from Duke University the following year. After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Kirk taught history at Michigan State and pursued graduate studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland. In 1952 he became the first American to earn a Doctor of Letters from St. Andrews. His landmark book, The Conservative Mind, was published in 1953. It received positive reviews nationwide, making it an immediate success. This launched Kirk’s career lecturing and writing about the roots of American society and political thought. The seven editions of this seminal work considered thinkers from Edmund Burke to T. S. Eliot.

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In 1954, Russell Kirk moved here into the home built by his great-grandfather, Amos Johnson, who was the first president of the Village of Mecosta. This familial connection to the past provided the foundation for Kirk’s understanding of what he called the “permanent things,” the time-tested principles that formed the basis of his conservatism. Kirk wrote 32 books, 800 essays and more than 3,000 columns. He founded two academic journals, and his works ranged from intellectual history and social criticism to gothic fiction. Twelve universities awarded him honorary doctorates. In 1975, after fire destroyed his ancestral home, Kirk built this Italianate house. Here, he often held student seminars. In 1989, President Reagan bestowed on Kirk the Presidential Citizens Medal. In 1994 the Michigan legislature declared him "Michigan’s greatest man of letters."

Erected 2019

Location: 729 W. Main Street
Mecosta, Mecosta County

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Latitude: 43.62385290, Longitude: -85.2351828

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