James L. Buckley Dead at 100

(RepublicanJournal.org) – Conservative icon James L. Buckley has died at the age of 100. Buckley, who served in the US Navy and all three branches of the federal government, was a key figure during the Reagan administration. Many historians and politicos consider him to be one of the 20th century’s strongest advocates of conservative values.

Buckley was born in Manhattan on March 29, 1923. In 1942, he left Yale University to enlist in the US Navy –- the prestigious awarded him his degree the following year anyway –- and took part in key Pacific battles, including Leyte Gulf and Okinawa. Leaving the Navy as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in 1946, he returned to Yale, earning a Bachelor of Laws in 1949.

Buckley’s political career began in 1968 with an unsuccessful run for one of New York’s Senate seats; he represented the Conservative Party of New York and came third. In 1970 he tried again and won, representing his state from 1971 to 1977. Although he ran as a Conservative again, he caucused with the Republicans.

After losing the 1976 election to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then failing to be elected to a Connecticut Senate seat in 1980, Buckley was appointed as an undersecretary of state for security, science, and technology by the newly inaugurated President Reagan in 1981. A year later, Reagan appointed him president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, broadcasting to the communist-occupied nations of Eastern Europe. Finally, in 1985, Reagan nominated him to the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit; he stayed there until his retirement in 1996.

In later years, Buckley became a critic of the primary system, blaming it for the “dysfunctional mess” and “awful tone” of current US politics. A classical conservative who believed in limited government and individual freedom, he was also motivated by his Catholic faith. Buckley married once, in 1953, to Ann Frances Cooley. They had six children.     

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