The Ambassador Frank E. Baxter Lecture

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Keegan Houser

The Ambassador Frank E. Baxter Lecture engages high-profile intellectual leaders whose expertise and scholarship focus on the ideal of freedom in political and economic life. Visiting scholars are invited to UC Berkeley for a multi-day visit of public lectures, dialogue with a respondent, and discussions with students centered on the theme of liberty.

Established with the support of the Honorable Frank E. Baxter, the Ambassador Frank E. Baxter Lecture is organized by the Berkeley Liberty Initiative, a program of the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley


Baxter Liberty Initiative Lecture presents: Freedom of Thought and the Struggle to End Slavery

Keith E. Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Princeton University 

4- 5 p.m.
Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Banatao Auditorium
University of California, Berkeley


How did the struggle to end slavery connect to the fight for the freedom of speech? The abolitionists saw the success of their movement as a victory for free speech, as well as for human liberty generally. To them, free speech was a necessary adjunct to their goal of converting a small movement on the fringes of mainstream politics into a powerful political force that could shape public opinion and win democratic elections. Their opponents thought the same, and engaged in aggressive efforts to suppress and silence antislavery speakers and writers in the antebellum period. In this talk, Keith E. Whittington will discuss his work on constitutional history and free speech, noting that abolitionists celebrated the ultimate abolition of slavery as a victory for freedom of thought.

Past Events

The Baxter Liberty Initiative | Matthew Continetti, "What Is Conservatism Today?"

Matthew Continetti: "What Is Conservatism Today?"

The 2022 Baxter Liberty Initiative: Rethinking Capitalism and Freedom

The Tarnishing of the Golden State: How Poorly Designed Policies Killed the California Dream

The Tarnishing of the Golden State: How Poorly Designed Policies Killed the California Dream

December, 2020

2020 Baxter flyer with Blurb 8.5x11 v4
2018 Baxter flyer 8.5x11 v.4
2020 Baxter flyer with Blurb 8.5x11 v4
2014 Baxter Init Searle Cohen flyer
Baxter 2023 with Matthew Continetti
2019 Baxter flyer with Blurb 8.5x11 v.4
2015 Baxter Init Caroline Hoxby flyer
2013 Baxter Init Gary Becker flyer-1

About Frank Baxter

Frank E. Baxter

Ambassador Frank E. Baxter was born in and attended grammar and high school in Northern California. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA degree in economics with honors in 1961. Before college he enlisted in the Air Force for four years.

After college he worked at the Bank of California, San Francisco. In 1963 he joined J.S. Strauss and Company, San Francisco, which then was a major third market firm.

From 1974 until 2002 he was employed by Jefferies and Company, a global investment bank specializing in small and mid-cap companies. In 1984 he moved to London to start and act as Managing Director of Jefferies International, which now has offices in Europe, Asia, and Australia. In 1987 he became CEO of Jefferies. That same year he started the Investment Technology Group, which is now a major electronic institutional brokerage, listed on the New York Stock Exchange during the 90s. He is now Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies.

He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay on November 7, 2006, and served until January 20, 2009.

He is a former director of the NASD and served as Chairman of the committee, which resulted in the spin-off of NASDAQ. He subsequently served on the Board of NASDAQ as a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the CEO search committee. He is also a former director of the Securities Industry Association.

Before his appointment as US Ambassador to Uruguay, Mr. Baxter was involved in numerous civic activities, including: Chairman of After-School All Stars; Chairman of the Board of Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, an organization dedicated to starting a number of charter schools in Los Angeles; Board Member, California Institute of the Arts; Member, Governor Schwarzenegger's Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth; Vice Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Opera, whose budget grew 2 1/2 times during his tenure as President; Chairman of the Executive Committee, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, while undergoing a major building campaign; Trustee, University of California Berkeley Foundation; and Trustee, I Have a Dream Foundation, LA Chapter.

He is the recipient of the Bet Tzedek, House of Justice and the Getty House (Mayor's Residence) City of Angels awards.

Ambassador Baxter has been married to his wife Kathy since 1962. They have three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.