Prominent conservative James L. Buckley dies at 100

 August 21, 2023

Prominent conservative senator and federal judge James L. Buckley died Friday at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. from complications after a fall at age 100, according to his nephew, political satirist Christopher Buckley. 

Buckley was originally from Connecticut before moving to New York and being elected to the Senate in 1970 as a Conservative Party candidate against two liberals who split their party's votes.

He was the first third-party candidate in the Senate since 1940, when Robert M. LaFollette Jr. of Wisconsin was elected on the Progressive ticket.

After only one term, he was never elected again, although there was talk of making him a presidential candidate in 1976 to thwart Ronald Reagan at the time. He declined and left elected politics in 1777.

Serving under Reagan

Ronald Reagan didn't take Buckley's almost candidacy personally. He appointed him to the State Department in 1981, and then as an appeals court judge on the D.C. Circuit in 1985, where he served for 15 years.

Buckley was the older brother of William F. Buckley, the conservative author and commentator who founded National Review. He was also the son of an oil tycoon that left each of his 10 children $17 million when he died.

Although he was wealthy, Buckley championed "middle-class values" and upholding the social order, although not the racial status quo.

Buckley had six children of his own and was regarded as attractive and charismatic.

He also served in the Navy during World War II after graduating from Yale with an English degree.

Buckley's politics

Before Watergate, Buckley was a staunch supporter of Richard Nixon, but he later urged Nixon to resign when the details of the scandal were revealed.

He did not agree with the military draft for Vietnam and also disagreed with Nixon's outreach to China.

Throughout his political and public career and after it was over, Buckley wrote four books: He wrote four books: “If Men Were Angels: A View From the Senate” (1975); a memoir, “Gleanings From an Unplanned Life: An Annotated Oral History” (2006); “Freedom at Risk: Reflections on Politics, Liberty, and the State” (2010); and “Saving Congress From Itself: Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People” (2014).

Before his death, Buckley lived in an assisted living facility in Bethesda, Maryland.

He was survived by his six children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His wife Ann died in 2011.

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