Polemics & Exchanges

On Dr. Samuel T. Francis

I first met Samuel Francis more than 30 years ago, when he was a graduate student in Chapel Hill and a stalwart member of the Carolina Conservative Society—subsequently, the “Orange County Anti-Jacobin League” when it lost its university recognition on a point of principle.  I was a brand-new faculty member, a refugee from Columbia University, and the group’s “advisor” (not that they wanted or took any advice).  Sam’s inimitable personality was already fully formed: gruff, combative, impatient with what he saw as stupidity or timidity, but with an underlying sweetness—yes, sweetness—that he usually kept well hidden.  After he left North Carolina, I saw him fairly often in Washington.  I recall several dinners at The Palm, surrounded by caricatures of politicians, both the framed and the all-too-living variety.  We would argue into the night.  Sam regarded me as squishy soft on most matters and didn’t hesitate to berate me for it, but we enjoyed sparring with each other almost as much as we enjoyed sharing our contempt for our common adversaries, who were legion.  Since the early 90’s, I’ve had few occasions to go to Washington and generally haven’t lingered when I went, so I gradually lost touch with Sam, but I kept up with what he was writing (and often argued with him in my mind).  I always assumed that one of these days we would pick up where we left off. ...

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