Sam Francis passed away on February 15 at age 57. His death is a great loss to the paleoconservative movement.
In 2001, after my senior year of high school, I attended Accuracy in Academia's Conservative University. There I read serious conservative voices including the late Dr. Francis.
After hearing Francis speak, I Googled (or perhaps then it was "Yahooed") his name. I found his columns at VDARE and after reading them was quickly converted to paleoism (albeit I became more of a paleolibertarian than conservative.)
Sam was of course one of the most prominent paleoconservative thinkers. In many ways this title fitted him. He opposed reckless foreign intervention, free trade, open borders, multiculturalism, neoconservatives, and big government.
However, while paleos are often seen as ultra reactionaries and traditionalists, Francis' intellectual mentors were very modern. One of the most important was James Burnham about whom he wrote about in Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham.
Francis also incorporated an appreciation of human nature and its limitations to his politics. There was far more to his thinking than mere nostalgia about the Hapsburgs or Antebellum South.
Francis took many positions with which many paleos, including myself, strongly disagree. While he critiqued Republicans for the abandonment of limited government, he did not flinch from calling "Capitalism the Enemy." [Here, or here] He eloquently argued the constitutionality of Southern secession and opposed the anti-Confederate zealots (but still called neo-Confederatism "an infantile disorder.")
Whether or not you agreed with Francis, he would always make you rethink your position. His wit and sarcasm made all of his columns, no matter how gloomy the subject matter, a pleasure to read.
The totalitarian left, in alliance with the neoconservatives responded by trying to silence him. After (who else?) Dinesh D'Souza criticized him for some forthright and politically incorrect things he said about race, the Washington Times fired him. (It did not save them. The Southern Poverty Law Center just published an exposé on the Times accusing it of having various links to 'extremists.')
Like so many Southern leaders before him, Sam Francis "took his stand." It cost him dearly. From the brink of real national prominence as demonstrated by his American Society of Newspaper Editor Distinguished Writing Awards in 1989 and 1990, he was systematically eradicated from conventional newspapers in later years. But the internet brought him many new friends and supporters. He never backed down from his beliefs - and his audience always found him.
It is hard to see anyone replacing him. But his legacy will live on.
Marcus Epstein [send him mail] is an undergraduate majoring in history at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA where he is an editor of the conservative newspaper, The Remnant. He also writes frequently for The American Conservative and Lewrockwell.com A selection of his articles can be seen here.