2015 Henry Allen Moe Prize

Autumn General Meeting
Bruce Kuklick

The American Philosophical Society is pleased to award the 2015 Henry Allen Moe Prize in the Humanities to Bruce Kuklick for his paper "Killing Lumumba" presented at the Society’s April Meeting in 2012, and published in the June 2014 Proceedings.

In this paper Professor Kuklick discusses the events that led to the murder in January, 1961, of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minster of the newly-created Republic of the Congo. The full details of this terrible episode only came to light after several documentary sources had been opened, notably a report commissioned by the Belgian parliament in 2001. One of the experts on the commission, Professor Emmanuel Girard, collaborated with Professor Kuklick to write a book on the subject, which has now been published by the Harvard University Press under the title Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba (2015). Bruce Kuklick’s paper concentrates on the American perspective, especially the role of President Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower had close links with Belgium, the last colonial power in the Congo; at the same time, he feared the spread of Soviet influence in Africa, and saw NATO as a useful instrument for containing Lumumba’s aspirations. Realizing that he was being treated as a threat rather than as a national leader, Lumumba made an unfortunate visit to New York and Washington in July, 1960, and this visit, by souring the Belgian authorities and appearing to threaten the stability of NATO, started a chain of events that led to his murder in January, 1961. Professor Kuklick tells this sorry tale objectively, and yet with full compassion for Lumumba as a person and for Africa as a theater of Cold War rivalries.

Bruce Kuklick is Nichols Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. His historical interests are broadly in the political, diplomatic, and intellectual history of the United States, and in the philosophy of history. He has written a dozen books, including his three-volume history of American thought, Churchmen and Philosophers: Jonathan Edwards to John Dewey (1985), The Rise of American Philosophy: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1860-1930 (1976), and Philosophy in America, 1720-2000 (2001). His most recent books are Blind Oracles: Intellectuals and War from Kennan to Kissinger (2006); a biography of African American philosopher William Fontaine, Black Philosopher; White Academy (2008); and a political history of America, One Nation Under God (2009). He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2004.

The prize was established in 1982 by a gift from the widow of Henry Allen Moe, to honor the longtime head of the Guggenheim Foundation and president of the American Philosophical Society from 1959 to 1970. It pays particular tribute to his firm commitment to the humanities and those who pursue them. The prize is awarded annually to the author of a paper in the humanities or jurisprudence read at a meeting of the Society.

The selection committee consists of Christopher P. Jones, chair, George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics and History Emeritus at Harvard University; Louis Begley, Novelist and retired Partner at Debevoise & Plimpton; and Elizabeth Cropper, Dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art.