The Legacy of Samuel T. Francis
April 29, 1947 – February 15, 2005
When you hear the word “conservative”, who or what are first to come to mind? When I heard that word in 2018, I used to think of free markets, individual liberty, and small/limited government, and the people associated to it were Ben Shapiro, John Locke, George W. Bush, and Steven Crowder. However, in 2022, I think of hierarchy, traditionalism, order, and authority, with the individuals being Paul Gottfried, Patrick Buchanan, Carl Schmitt, Joseph de Maistre, and James Burnham. The first set of individuals are what originally influenced me in my political adolescence but soon I discarded them and embraced true conservatism. But out of the many famous thinkers, politicians, and journalists who have remained well-known in many conservative circles, one man has been influential in other right-wing circles and was considered as a “prophet” to Trumpism: columnist and conservative commentator Samuel T. Francis.
Sometimes referred to as “The Clausewitz of the Right”, Sam had a sharp eye for pointing out the flaws and errors of the American conservative movement, and he would provide advice, thoughts, and comments on how the Right can regain political influence in America. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1947, he received his B.A. in History at Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Modern History at the University of North Carolina, he was very knowledgeable on subjects concerning ancient history and philosophy and served as a political aide for Senator John East in 1986. Sam soon became a nationally syndicated columnist for the Washington Times in 1991 and won the “Distinguished Writing Award” from the American Society of News Editors. His columns were syndicated until 1995 when he was fired due to provocative, yet insightful, comments made during his appearance at the 1994 American Renaissance (AmRen) conference.
Even before his firing, Sam was no stranger to controversy. Many of his writings and articles, ranging from foreign policy, American Identity, the Managerial Revolution, immigration, realities on race, and the feebleness of the American Right, were faced with backlash from both liberals and conservatives. Dinesh D’Souza, who got Francis fired in 1995 due to his AmRen appearance, made note of several remarks that Sam made during the AmRen conference when referring to American and, more broadly, Western civilization. His writings were distributed on Chronicles Magazine as a part of his famous column, “Principalities and Powers.” Many prominent conservatives at the time such as William F. Buckley, David Brooks, George Will, and others criticized and vilified him as a “racist.” While there are those who praise him and those who oppose and critique him, it can be concluded that Sam Francis was one of the most important right-wing thinkers and, therefore, cannot be ignored.
Despite losing his position at the Washington Times, this did not stop Sam from continuing to write fascinating articles. Soon after, he became a writer for various conservative outlets such as the Citizens Informer, Occidental Quarterly, and VDARE. He was one of a few individuals to speak at every American Renaissance conference until his death in 2005. His essays and articles have been seen as “monumental” and “significant” for the development of both the paleoconservative and Trump movements in the United States. Influenced by writers like James Burnham and other “Machiavellian” thinkers like Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto, he became intrigued in Burnham’s “managerial revolution.” The revolution claims that “control of corporations and banks has shifted from capitalists to managerial specialists, technocrats, and bureaucrats.” This theory was elaborated in “James Burnham: Thinkers of Our Time,” and was further developed in Francis’s 2016 book, “Leviathan and its Enemies.” His famous term, “Anarcho-Tyranny”, refers to the “combination of oppressive government power against the innocent and the law-abiding and, simultaneously, a grotesque paralysis of the ability or the will to use that power to carry out basic public duties such as protection of public safety.” Sam further elaborates that,
His legacy is to be attributed to his efforts to reform the American Right into a significant, competent political force in American politics. He was still critical of the mainstream Right; referring to the current state of the conservative movement, I can think of what Sam once said to Pat Buchanan in 1991: “These people are defunct…call yourself a patriot, a nationalist, an America Firster, but don’t even use the word ‘conservative.’ It doesn’t mean anything anymore.” Although there were many attempts, mainly from conservatives, to censor and shut down Francis due to his views, this did not stop him from having his say on the current state of America. His views and writings heavily influenced paleoconservatism and the America First movement, which Patrick Buchanan started and has been revived only recently due to Nick Fuentes and his podcast, “America First.”
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. On February 15th, 2005, Sam Francis died of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 57. He was buried in Chattanooga and many of his friends, including Patrick Buchanan and Jared Taylor, attended his funeral. It has been 18 years since we lost one of the greatest minds influenced by the Old Right, and helped influence paleoconservatism and authentic conservatism, which seeks for “the survival and enhancement of a particular people and its institutionalized cultural expressions.” Through his speeches, books, and articles, he has remained one of the most influential thinkers within conservative crowds. Praised as a realist and conservative, he helped paved the way for the ‘America First’ movement that has recently surged since the Trump presidency.
His influence on me helped shape many of my views regarding the current conservative movement, race, immigration, political strategy, as well as other issues worth addressing. His influence on the Right, through his various writings and books, helped us understand what is wrong with the American Right and how to fix it. I believe that if he were still alive, he’d be delighted to see that many Americans are “carrying the flag” and standing for America’s history, culture, traditions, and values, and fighting to take back and preserve the historic American nation that many of us still cherish.