For 15 years, James Q. Wilson, who passed away in March 2012, delivered an enormously popular annual lecture for the Manhattan Institute. The impressive variety of his topics—the criminal-justice system, the roots of terrorism, the role of the media in shaping public opinion, and the nature of democracy, to name just a few—reflected his wide-ranging intellect, and the size of the audiences that attended testified to a long and admiring relationship between Professor Wilson and the Manhattan Institute.
Wilson, a former professor at Harvard University and UCLA, wrote many books, among them The Moral Sense and The Marriage Problem. His public service included the chairmanship of the White House Task Force on Crime in 1966 and the National Advisory Commission on Drug Abuse Prevention from 1972 to 1973. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wilson received the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in July 2003.