William F. Buckley, Jr.
Our Eponym & Enduring Inspiration
Our namesake, William Frank Buckley, Jr., graduated from Yale in 1950. It was the capstone of a brilliant collegiate career, during the course of which he distinguished himself on the debate team and as chairman of the Yale Daily News. Buckley was also a member of Skull and Bones and the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union. In 1951, he published his first book, God and Man at Yale, exposing the intellectual conformity and dogmatism of Yale's increasingly secularist, left-wing climate.
From the withering criticism Buckley received (one unfriendly reader, Frank Ashburn, called Buckley "Torquemada, reincarnated in his early twenties"), God and Man at Yale seemed, at the time, like the voice of one crying in the wilderness. But just two years later, Russell Kirk's book The Conservative Mind gave more evidence that a conservative recrudescence was afoot. In 1955, having assembled a ragtag group of traditionalist conservatives, libertarians, and anti-Communists, Buckley launched National Review, then, as now, the right's foremost journal of fact and opinion. His syndicated column, On the Right, began in 1962, and his 35-year-running television program, Firing Line, in 1966. He also found time to write or edit more than 50 books. The father of modern conservatism, Buckley was its foremost advocate for more than half a century, until his death in 2008.