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In Memoriam

Requiescat In Pace Domini

In any age, Samuel Francis would have been a remarkable man for the penetration of his mind, his unflinching pursuit of truth—regardless of current cant or personal consequences—and the gravity of his style.  In our age, he is peerless, and his death represents an irreplaceable loss.

Sam and I were friends and allies for over 35 years, and, although we had an occasional falling-out—once for many months—I never ceased admiring his work and his character.  A gentleman of a school so old we can no longer recognize its existence, Sam never talked of his “feelings,” and, if one spoke of loyalty or friendship, he was sure to make an ironic quip.  Nonetheless, I learned early on that he was loyal to his friends even (especially) when it entailed a threat to his own interest.  In so many ways, he was the opposite of most conservatives.  He rarely talked a good game, but he always played one.

Sam’s deep sense of loyalty became very apparent during the struggle, in the first term of the Reagan administration, over M.E. Bradford’s proposed nomination as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This was the first occasion on which the neoconservatives showed their hand, and none of Mel’s friends—least of all Sam—has ever forgotten the dirty part played by Irving Kristol, George Will, and the head of a leading conservative think...

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