50th Anniversary This Weekend of the Seminal ‘Sharon Statement’

Before this weekend ends, I thought it worth a reminder that this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of a key milestone in the creation of the modern conservative political movement – the “Sharon Statement.” On Friday, the Fund for American Studies and the Young America’s Foundation sponsored a “Tribute to Sharon: Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Liberty” daytime conference followed by a dinner commemorating the 1960 founding of the Young Americans for Freedom. C-SPAN carried the afternoon speakers live from DC’s Mayflower hotel. (The image here is from a photo I took of a screen during the dinner.)

For the American Spectator online, Quin Hillyer, one of the speakers, wrote an informative piece on what he described as “the single best compendium of American conservative movement beliefs” and its adoption at a gathering of about 90 college students and a few 30-something “elders” (including MRC President L. Brent Bozell III's father) at William F. Buckley Jr.’s home in Sharon, Connecticut.

In a piece in Friday’s Investor’s Business Daily, “The Magnificent Legacy of the YAF,” K.E. Grubbs Jr. recalled “M. Stanton Evans was charged with drafting a statement of principles” and observed: “The Sharon Statement would last as the late 20th century's single most elegant distillation of conservative principles.”

A new book, by Wayne Thorburn, provides a history of the Young Americans for Freedom and a look at its impact and the influence of those who were once members, ‘A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement.’ (Amazon’s page) Dinner attendees got a free copy and I discovered that I earned a sentence (on page 493, yes, it’s a long book).

(C-SPAN’s video camera caught me a few times in the audience and in this jpg you can see me, from the back, talking to a conservative media figure with whom you may be familiar: Scripps-Howard nationally-syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock.)

Sharon Statement

"Adopted in Conference, at Sharon, Connecticut, in conference September 10 - 13, 1960."

IN THIS TIME of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.

WE, as young conservatives believe:

THAT foremost among the transcendent values is the individual's use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;

THAT liberty is indivisible, and that political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom;

THAT the purpose of government is to protect those freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice;

THAT when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power, which tends to diminish order and liberty;

THAT the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power;

THAT the genius of the Constitution - the division of powers - is summed up in the clause that reserves primacy to the several states, or to the people in those spheres not specifically delegated to the Federal government;

THAT the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom and constitutional government, and that it is at the same time the most productive supplier of human needs;

THAT when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation, that when it takes from one to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both;

THAT we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history shows periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies…

THAT the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties;

THAT the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with this menace; and

THAT American foreign policy must be judged by this criterion: does it serve the just interests of the United States?

Conservatives & Republicans History
Brent Baker's picture