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William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. was the renaissance man of modern American conservatism. He was the founder and editor in chief of National Review, a syndicated columnist, the host of Firing Line (TV’s longest-running weekly public-affairs program), the author of more than 50 books, and a college lecturer for nearly five decades. His mighty stream of words is almost surely unequalled by any other writer of the past 100 years.

Before Bill Buckley came along, American conservatism was composed of “a congeries of ill assorted half-enemies,” in the words of long-time National Review publisher Bill Rusher. [1] Buckley purged the conservative movement of its extremist elements and united the rest by persuading traditionalists, libertarians, and anti-Communists to focus on a common enemy: liberalism.

Buckley’s vision of ordered liberty shaped and guided modern conservatism from its infancy in the 1950s to its present-day maturity as a political force that has transformed American politics. As George Will has written, “Before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater, there was National Review, and before there was National Review, there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind, and the spark in 1980 became a conflagration.”

Born

November 24, 1925, in New York City to William Frank Buckley Sr. and Aloise Josephine Antonia Steiner (Buckley).

Education

Attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico for one year in 1943, graduated from the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School as a second lieutenant, and later graduated with honors from Yale with degrees in political science, history, and economics in 1950.

Religion

Roman Catholic.

Family

Married Patricia Aldyen Austin Taylor in 1950, with whom he had one son, Christopher Buckley.

Highlights

  • Author of over 50 books, including God and Man at Yale (1951); Up from Liberalism (1959); Saving the Queen: A Blackford Oakes Novel (1976); Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith (1997);Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography (2004); and The Reagan I Knew (2008).
  • Founding president, Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (1953).
  • Founder and editor-in-chief, National Review (1955–1990).
  • Co-founder, Conservative Party of New York (1961).
  • Mayoral candidate, New York City (1965).
  • Public delegate to the United Nations (1973).
  • Host, Firing Line (1966-1999).
  • Syndicated columnist (1962–2008).

Died

February 27, 2008, at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.

Notable Quote

“I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.”

[Biography is from Dr. Lee Edwards, The Heritage Foundation.  Full bio is here.]

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