“Americans of all ages, conditions, and interests unite for all kinds of reasons in their liberty and their pursuit of happiness. They form churches, business enterprises, sewing circles, sports clubs, hospitals, schools, charities—vital associations in which, as Tocqueville says, ‘the heart is enlarged, . . . the human mind is developed,’ and without which ‘civilization itself would be in peril.’”


The Literary Club of Cincinnati was founded on October 29, 1849 and is—as far as I know—the oldest continuously operating Literary Club in America. Members come from all professions and persuasions; what brings them together is their abiding regard for the written word. Attending one of their Monday evening gatherings reminds one how essential private clubs and “associations” have always been to American democracy.