In September 1960, about 100 young conservatives congregated at the home of National Review founder William F. Buckley, Jr. in Sharon, Connecticut and founded Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) to serve as the vehicle for young conservative movement activists. The result was a statement of principle known as the Sharon Statement, which was drafted by the then 26-year old M. Stanton Evans, and stands to this day as a concise statement of the central ideas of modern American conservatism.
Among the principles in the statement are the following: Free will and moral authority come from God; political and economic liberty are essential for a free people and free institutions; government must be strictly and constitutionally limited; the market economy is the economic system most compatible with freedom; and Communism must be defeated, not merely contained. The statement further denies the basic premises of progressivism and modern liberalism.
The YAF continues as one of the most influential organizations that sustain the ideals of conservatism and has provided a valuable educational resource for the youth of our country who want an alternative to the progressive agenda.
I became acquainted with the thought of Stanton Evans about 20 years ago when I read his book, The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition, and had an opportunity to meet him at a speaking engagement. In this book, he challenges every leftist concept that permeates most of our current history curriculum, such as that our liberties stem from secular doctrines, that religious absolutes endanger freedom, and that the Bill of Rights created a “wall of separation” between religion and our public institutions. According to Evans, all of this is refuted by the historical record.
He was an effective leader of the revived conservative movement over the past half century and a mentor for numerous young conservative journalists and writers. He died recently at 80. RIP.