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davidDavid C. Hendrickson has taught at Colorado College since 1983, and was chair of the Political Science department from 2000 to 2003. Hendrickson received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) in 1982. He teaches courses in American foreign policy and international relations.

Hendrickson is the author of seven books, including Union, Nation, or Empire: The American Debate over International Relations, 1789-1941 and Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding, both published by the University Press of Kansas.

He attended Colorado College from 1971 to 1976, taking a year off after sophomore year. Although a History major, he took many courses in the Political Science department, to which he returned as a teacher in 1983. He received tenure at Colorado College in 1989, became a full professor in 1996, and was Robert J. Fox Distinguished Service Professor from 2004 to 2009.

collegeHendrickson attended graduate school at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and has written three books with his former professor at Hopkins, Robert W. Tucker, including The Imperial Temptation: The New World Order and America's Purpose (Council on Foreign Relations, 1992), Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson (nominated by Oxford University Press for a Pulitzer Prize, 1990), and The Fall of the First British Empire: Origins of the War of American Independence (Johns Hopkins, 1982).

Hendrickson is also the author of The Future of American Strategy (Holmes and Meier, 1987) and Reforming Defense: The State of American Civil-Military Relations (Johns Hopkins, 1988). In 1981, he worked briefly (and rather ingloriously, he would concede) as Legislative Assistant for Foreign Policy for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.

dhHendrickson was the Whitney Shephardson fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1991-92. He has received fellowships from the The Lehrman Institute, the Olin Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. He served on the editorial board of Ethics and International Affairs from 1994 to 1999. His Peace Pact was named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine.

He is an avid golfer and used to have an excellent record against his students on the links. Of late, his fortunes have turned. He has a hole-in-one on Patty Jewett No. 2, miraculously witnessed by his wife, son, and startled classmates attending their 25th CC reunion. 

jamesonHis favorite whiskey is Jameson. He has considered dedicating a book to R.J. Reynolds (but thought better of it).

He directs the journalism minor at Colorado College and was the editor of the special 25th anniversary issue of Leviathan.

He was a book reviewer ("United States") for Foreign Affairs (from 1994 to 1998) and has published essays in a variety of foreign policy journals, including World Policy Journal, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Ethics and International Affairs, Orbis, and Survival.

kidHendrickson was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1953, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin W. Hendrickson. He grew up in the Crown Heights district and was raised in the Unitarian Church. He attended the Oklahoma City public schools--Edgemere, Harding, and Northeast (grad. 1971). He was a high-school debater, part of the first class that integrated the Oklahoma City public schools, a four-year Latin student (under the direction of his beloved teacher, Marjorie Miller), and editor of a citywide youth newspaper, The Last Word

In 1979, he married Clelia deMoraes, whom he met in 1970 at Colorado College. They have one son and two daughters--Wesley and Whitney (b. 1990), and Marina (b. 1992). Whitney died in a tragic accident on March 17, 2009 and is memorialized here.



I include below my one and only stint as a poet. These little ditties, in the voice of my children, were written in the fall of 1995.

For Marina, age 3

I'm Suspicious

I'm suspicious
'bout what you're doin';
I think I smell a rat.
Unhand that toy, it belongs to me,
and so does that and that and that.

I'm suspicious
'bout what you're thinkin';
Quit lookin' at me, please.
I'm not gonna do what you wanna
So forget it, sir, says me's.

I'm suspicious
'bout what you're sayin';
It comports not with my intention.
I don't like meat, or peas, or squash
Nor anything of your invention.


If you'll do as you are ordered
and attend to my requirements
I'll consider doin' this time what you say.
It's pretty clear
That with a laugh or a tear,
I can most times get my way. 

* * *


For Wesley, age 5

Dad and Me

Hip-hop, Hopscotch
One, two, three.
I love him
And he loves me

I'm the son
and he's the Dad.
When he's away
It makes me sad.

Moms are good for some things, true,
Especially when you're feeling blue;
But for chasin', and fightin', and other good things
Pop's the best, 'cause he's real mean.

A monster, a goblin, a ghost, and a bear
Dad is scary--no kidding, I swear;
He's gobbled me up a thousand times
But I'm okay, I'm really fine.
I like to kick, and romp, and play;
Hit things with sticks, the whole long day.

He knows, and I know, that I'll get old.
The seasons will pass, the nights grow cold.
And one day, when I'm big and strong
I'll turn to him, and say, "You're wrong."
And I won't fit upon his knee
And he won't swing me from a tree.

Then Dad will scowl at me and think
This kid will soon drive me to drink.
He'll look at Mom, and say to thee:
"The worst has come; he's just like me."

* * *


For Whitney, age 5

The Cynic and his Daughter

I'm an unusual specimen
Of the degraded human race.
My father says some things are known
In every time and place.

Hate, deceit, and suffering
Are the common lot of man.
He says there's more ongoing wars
Than I can count upon my hands.

The papers show a tale of woe
On every page they print.
Shortstops know what makes them go
Are nickels, dimes, and cents.

Statesmen, leaders, preachers, too,
Are not what they may seem.
I'm a gentle little girl
Amid a hopeless race of beings.

* * *




I have a decided weakness for collections of maxims, proverbs, and pithy sayings, wherein most of the wisdom of the human race is accumulated. They are like the apples in Locke's state of nature, free to everyone who will bother to pick them up, and given in such abundance that no thought of competition for scarce resources can arise. The grandest of such books of quotations is H.L. Mencken's New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles from Ancient and Modern Sources, which you can order here. Parents should consider this as a suitable gift to the graduating senior who has discovered a taste for learning. There's also a fine collection of online quotation books at

What follows below are selections from an especially penetrating but forgotten character named Dickson G. Watts, who was President of the New York Cotton Exchange between 1878 and 1880. These sayings, about a fourth of the total, are from Watt’s Thoughts on Life, reprinted along with Speculation as a Fine Art in 1965. 


Rhythms of Life

People forget in the rush, remember in the hush.

Tendency is everything. The direction in which you start determines your destination.

Enthusiasm is a poor guide, but a good companion.

Life is a dream. Some men know they are dreaming; others think they are awake.

All things demand an outlet. The passageway of the body stopped, death ensues; the mind, inverted, stagnates; the soul, denied expression, stifles.

Men wish to die when they should live; wish to live when they should die.

Use conditions possession. You must use your body or lose it; use your mind or lose it; use your soul or lose it.

To conquer fate, advance to meet it.

In life, as in a game of cards, you must sit out bad luck.

Sleep is a truce, death a surrender.

Great wealth is a misfortune; it attracts parasites and repels friends.

Eating, drinking, and sleeping are the penalties the soul pays for inhabiting a body.

Wealth is a means of refinement; but having done its work it ceases to aid, and retards true refinement.

In youth a man forges the chains that bind him in old age.

A blemish in youth, a vice in old age.

To the careless, life is a drama; to the heartless, a comedy; to the thoughtful, a tragedy.

Acquire a habit and a habit has acquired you.

“Misery loves company,” but company doesn’t reciprocate.

In the presence of some people we wither like sensitive plants; in the presence of others, we expand like flowers.

The sorrows of youth are acute; of age bitter.

Sickness develops a man inwardly, health outwardly. To have the benefits of both, man must have been sick and become well.

Two kinds of wisdom,--to persist in things worth doing; to abandon things not worth doing.

Put on the breaks in middle life, or the momentum of youth will destroy you.


The Way People Are

People, like gems, have flaws. If we would enjoy them we should not examine too closely.

In his secret heart, every man thinks the universe is especially hard on him

Dislike is sometimes based upon understanding; oftener, on misunderstanding.

A good man thinks the motives of others are as pure as his own. A bad man thinks the motives of others are as bad as his own. Life often corrects the mistake of the former, seldom those of the latter.

Angels abroad are often demons at home.

No man is as good as he is thought to be; no man as bad.

Against flattery women are on guard. Men can be flattered into doing almost anything.

Men excuse their vices by enumerating their virtues.

Men wear masks and the world takes them seriously; when a man shows his real face, the world laughs.

Man seeks society because he can’t endure his own companionship.

Desire for superiority is universal. If a man be a knave, he wishes to be the greatest knave; if a fool, the greatest fool.

Awe is fear petrified.

A common deception, -- self deception.

People meditate much—on other people’s sins.

Better the vagaries of eccentricity than common-place dullness.

Men make large demands on the universe, but they offer little in payment.

A friend is one with whom we can think out loud.

Patience is sustained courage.

“The destruction of the poor is their poverty.” The destruction of the rich is their riches.

Sarcasm is the spawn of meanness; joking, the off-spring of good nature.

Many a truth spoken in jest; many an untruth spoken in earnest.

Blame, when praise is deserved, exasperates; praise, when blame is deserved, humiliates

Virtue is its own reward; so is vice.



Seeing things in their right relation to each other is the highest vision.

Light is one; and yet people see things “in a different light.” It is shadow that makes the difference.

Two kinds of vision,--to see things as we see them; to see things as others see them.

Teach men to navigate life’s sea as you teach a boy to swim: put your hand under him, then slowly and gently withdraw it.

A true view can only be gained by having been in a thing and having come out of it.

Argument is an effort of each man to force his idea on the other; discussion is an effort to gain knowledge. The wise man declines argument, invites discussion.

Wisdom consists in seeing many things and concentrating on one thing.

Much power, like much learning, makes men mad.

A philosopher doesn’t win battles, found empires; but reclaims new territory and civilizes old hemispheres.

Placing emphasis in the right place is the truest art and the highest wisdom.

The whole truth cannot be stated in any one proposition.

Man rules man; ideas rule the world.

The man who “knows it all” has much to learn.

Genius consists in seeing instantly the vital point.

A man who does not change his mind has little mind to change.

A good second-hand article,--experience.

Wise men sometimes say foolish things. Fools sometimes say wise things.

Words are coins. Stamp them with your own image.

To separate the essential from the non-essential is the mark of a superior mind.

The more points of view, the better the point of view.

Don’t batter down the door; pick the lock

Not what others have written, but what you think.


Public Affairs


“Make believe” is a game society plays as well as children.

People who wish to do; people who wish to know; people who wish to see; people who wish to dream,--the first are statesmen, the second, philosophers; the third are artists; the last are poets.

All movements are in waves,--in politics, in business, in the atmosphere, in spirit. Rest with the descending wave; mount with the ascending wave.

“Great bodies move slowly.” Great events move rapidly.

We cannot be just and hold the scales ourselves.

Destroy the illusions and there is not much left of life.

Don’t fool with Nature; she “strikes back.”

Surplus is as bad as deficiency, deficiency as surplus.

The realist makes the mistake of exposing everything. It isn’t necessary to go through the kitchen to reach the parlor.

Health is equilibrium.

The distant is the great, the near the little. But the little-near controls man rather than the distant-great.

If you wait until you see clearly, you will never act; if you wait for a pure motive, you will never move.

The greatest tolerance is to tolerate the intolerant.

The wound that injustice makes goes deeper and lasts longer than any other.


How We Should Act


If you want to go anywhere, start. If you want to do anything, begin.

Don’t look at your friends through a microscope, nor at yourself through a telescope.

A man who has made a mistake suffers enough. Don’t “throw it up” to him.

The man who does not laugh at himself, despise himself, and worship himself, knows nothing about himself.

Do you wish sympathy? Don’t seek it.
Do you want a secret kept? Don’t tell it.

The greatest possession,--self-possession.

Keep your voice down and you will keep your temper down.

Respect your limitations; your limitations will not respect you.

Look before you leap, but not when you leap.

To be sincere with others is easy; with one’s self, difficult.

Two standards, --one for yourself and one for your neighbor. The first should be fixed, the second flexible.

Recognize a fault, but don’t dwell on it.

Don’t stand shivering on the brink; take the plunge.

To know when to begin is easy; when to stop, difficult.

Censure is poor food, but we can extract some nourishment from it.

Take counsel of your fears, but don’t be controlled by them.

Courage consists in doing the thing you are afraid to do.

Bragging is an expensive luxury. Better not indulge in it.

If you work yourself down, sleep yourself up.

To have made one’s self ridiculous, and not to mourn over it, is a supreme test of virtue.