Remembering Sam Francis

Gilbert Cavanaugh, American Renaissance, February 14, 2014

Sam Francis
A good man is hard to find.

Today, February 14, is the ninth anniversary of the death of Samuel T. Francis. Perhaps it is a quirk of the mind, but I associate Francis with Flannery O’Connor. There are parallels that go beyond the obvious—that they were both Southerners and were attacked by professional anti-racists. O’Connor stood strong as a Catholic despite living in the Bible Belt and Francis stayed a Presbyterian despite immersion in increasingly Catholic paleoconservative circles.

Many titles of O’Connor’s short stories could have served as titles for Francis’s columns: “Good Country People,” “A Late Encounter with the Enemy,” “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” etc. If someone were to find a collection of lost O’Connor short stories an appropriate title for the collection would be Beautiful Losers, one of Francis’s major titles. Race and the American Prospect, another Francis book, could serve as the title of an analysis of O’Connor’s work. O’Connor wrote fiction, and Francis wrote political commentary, but they shared themes on dispossession, betrayal, changing eras, the South, and the family. They also struck a similar tone of romantic fatalism.

Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor

Both died young: O’Connor at 39 and Francis at 57. And although early death is always tragic, in both cases I wonder if it were not good fortune for them. In a few years O’Connor would have had to witness the purposeful political and cultural destruction of the South. Francis would have had to see the election of Barack Obama, the forced cancellation of two American Renaissance conferences, and the official news of white deaths outnumbering white births.

Sam Francis died before I even started high school, but the respect and reverence in which people I admire hold him is unlike anyone else I know of. The list of affectionate and heartbreaking obituaries written for Sam Francis by the best and the brightest of the alternative/dissident right included tributes by Paul GottfriedSam DicksonJoe SobranJared TaylorPeter Brimelow, Thomas Fleming, Patrick Buchanan, and many others. One thing they all made clear: a good man is hard to find. It makes me wish desperately that he had held on just a few more years so I could have had known him.

The long list of obituary authors parallels the great breadth of Mr. Francis’s writings. He wrote for a huge variety of publications—even when their editors fought and even libeled each other. Francis had such stature that he emerged from all infighting not only unscathed but esteemed. I can’t decide whether it is more amusing or depressing that when a gathering was held in Washington, DC, to promote a posthumous collection of Mr. Francis’s writing, those who showed up got into a quarrel.


There is a different kind of acknowledgment of Francis’s brilliance. The exact nature of his legacy and even interpretations of book reviews Francis wrote over a decade ago are still debated. Well after his death, people are still writing pieces about him that are half obituary, half ode. This James Kirkpatrick essay published on the eighth anniversary of his death is an example, as is Fran Griffin’s talk at the 2012 H.L. Mencken Club meeting. And leftists calling people “racist” try to tie their new victim to the name of Sam Francis, as Salon did most recently with Jack Hunter.

When I was at the last H.L. Mencken Club conference, I began chatting with an older attendee about the early days of the John Randolph Club and American Renaissance conferences. When I asked him what he thought it was about Sam Francis that made him so universally respected, he began to answer, then said it was hard to answer, and then paused to think. During the pause, a friend of his walked up and asked what we were talking about, to which I said, “I was just asking him about the early days of conferences like these.” Without missing a beat, he said, “Oh, son, it’s a pity you never got to see Sam Francis in action, boy was he brilliant.”

Although seeing Francis live is a pleasure I will never have, when I read his work I understand the reverence in which he is held. There are of course his unashamed writings on race: “As long as whites continue to avoid and deny their own racial identity . . . [they] will have no chance to resist their dispossession and their eventual and possible physical destruction.” And his unapologetic writings on culture, “. . . the United States of America is a Christian country . . . its people are a Christian people, and . . . its government and public leaders at all levels must reflect Christian beliefs and values.” But he was also a razor-tongued polemicist. He wrote this about Ronald Reagan: “. . . he may well have been the first chief executive since Herbert Hoover who did not deserve a prison term for his crimes . . . [but] his enduring legacy as a conservative statesman is pretty thin.”

He also had an uncanny ability to foresee the next turn in American politics. Shortly after the 2000 presidential election, Francis chastised Republican strategists who were trying to gain non-white votes at the expense of their white base. He wrote bluntly that this was “the road to political suicide,” and indeed, since then the Republicans have only eked out one presidential victory (largely due to the overwhelmingly white state of Ohio), and have been the minority in the Senate since 2006.

Four years later, reporting on the Democratic National Convention, he wrote about a rising star named Barack Obama. Though Francis never lived to see Mr. Obama win a senate seat, much less the presidency, his analysis was spot on:

His racial identity or supposed lack of it enables him to be both black and non-racial, white and multiracial, at the same time . . . which is useful when he’s presenting himself as “above” race and appealing to the white voters he’ll need if he’s going to be elected or when he’s denouncing his critics and opponents for playing race cards as he himself of course would never do.

Over the last five years we have been told that Mr. Obama’s presidency represents the end of “racism” even while the president and his cronies serve up an endless list of black grievances.

During the controversy over the Confederate battle flag at South Carolina’s state capitol, Francis accurately predicted that once all things Southern were gone, there would come, “the eradication of all symbols from pre-1960s America that suggest a white-based or ‘Eurocentric’ public identity.” Over a decade later, even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are said to have inherent racism—not because they are Confederate or Southern, but because they are “white.”

Sam Francis’s wisdom was not limited to racial matters. Many of his 1994 “Principalities and Powers” columns in Chronicles were about the horrific consequences NAFTA would soon have on American workers, of which that act’s 20th anniversary leaves little doubt. The Iraq War, too, was another folly he denounced early on. In April 2003, when so many pundits were cheering America’s victory in Iraq, he wrote that Americans had better “sober up.” The war was started over an outright lie, had killed tens of thousands of people, and had opened a can of worms that would be crawling over us for years.

The minister at Francis’s grave-side service noted that the deceased very much agreed with Flannery O’Connor: “Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” The bedrock of Francis’s legacy was his pursuit of the truth and the clear-eyed conclusions he drew when he found it. Men such as him are rare gifts from our race to our race.

[Editor’s Note: A collection of Sam Francis’s most incisive writing about race is available here.]

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Gilbert Cavanaugh
Gilbert Cavanaugh is a college student and Middle American Radical.
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  • If he would have lived to see the events that transpired in the last nine years, he would have saved his best velvet-gloved wrath for the neo-cons and RINOs in the Stupid Party, because those were his favorite targets. And, judging from what happened in three of the four biennial election season that have transpired after his death, he’d have plenty of material to work with.

    • The Verdict of History

      What I find appalling is that only one full video-recording of a lecture of his remains online.

      The video is embedded in the article (See above).


      I want more.

      We need more.

      • I know a lot of people like videos, but to me, the writings and thoughts of the late Samuel Todd Francis are better in the written word.

    • LHathaway

      Was wondering at the end, where he condemns republicans. . and himself for voting for them in the past. It almost seemed as if he was trying to be the ‘conservative’ version of those leftist radicals, who today condemn Obama. It almost seemed an attempt at irony.

  • jackryanvb

    I greatly enjoyed Sam Francis ‘s writing in Chronicles and the start of the alternative right, Buchanan America First , populist campaigns.

    Still, I feel so disappointed that we knew the truth about Iraq, NAFTA, the Neo Conservative con game, Black crime, 3rd world immigration, but we always seemed to lose and simply couldn’t reach the masses of our people who felt as we do.

    Sure, “the system” MSM, hostile elites and the Black underclass were not playing fair, but we could have done better.

    Case in point, the book cover shown here – “Shot’s Fired – America’s Culture War” has a photo of Sam Francis looking like a sick, 87 year old man on his death bed. He looks old, weak and out of it. Why would our side choose to use such a terrible photo that makes ours side look old, weak and dying? It would have been easy to commission an artist to creat a positive image for Sam Francis – younger, healthier, confident.

    The American Conservative Right wing usually can be counted on to fall down when it comes to propaganda, art, culture and personality. There is a reason the Liberal Left usually gets our young people, college students – they do a much better job with propaganda, art, music, personality etc.

    • David Ashton

      Sam had a good grasp of the problem in England and also of communism. We just have to reach the young – it has to be an international partnership and sensitive to their cosmopolitan “cultural” inhibitions and commercialised hedonism. Rights for whiteskins TOO is the best way in with them, and encouraging a rebellion against the dominant falsehoods of the old and sick of the “Left” – Marx, Mao, Marcuse, Mandela, just for starters.

      • Daniel Schmuhl

        Such a movement already exists. If you read HBD and Neoreactionary blogs you notice that they’re populated by lots of young people. I’m only in my early 20’s myself.

        • David Ashton

          Small sparks can start a prairie fire.

    • Geo1metric

      “The American Conservative Right wing usually can be counted on to fall down when it comes to propaganda, art, culture and personality. There is a reason the Liberal Left usually gets our young people, college students – they do a much better job with propaganda, art, music, personality etc.”

      The left seems to always be sufficiently funded to launch these successful campaigns. I think the success of the Left rests on this funding. After all, it seems to me that for my entire adult life, the Left has created “pop culture”.

      This kind of success does not happen by accident; it is well funded, and choreographed.

      • jackryanvb

        It’s not all about money “funding”.

        Just do the basics, use a photo, artist rendition of our leader with a iphoto that doesn’t look old, tired, on his death bed.

        Sam Francis was 57 years old when he died, why does our side use some terrible photo that makes him look like 87?

      • JohnEngelman

        When it comes to funding, those who advocate more wealth and power for rich people and corporations are amply rewarded.

  • Tarczan

    “As long as whites continue to avoid and deny their own racial identity . . . [they] will have no chance to resist their dispossession and their eventual and possible physical destruction.”

    That is the situation we are in today.

  • dd121

    The article predicts a sad end to the culture wars and the white race and culture. Let’s try to keep our chin up and soldier on.

    • Martel

      There is nothing else, there is only one thing which matters and that is to learn, and to pass on, how to enjoy this, how to thrive in it. In politics there always have been dynasties who have been close to being pushed over the precipice by their enemies, but the families which thrived never let such fears and worries cloud their vision. Our dynasty is our extended family.

      • IstvanIN

        A dynasty implies a leader, a head, a chief, we have far more traitors among our ranks than leaders.

        • LACountyRedneck

          Traitors in charge. We have many more soldiers than traitor leaders. These soldiers like you and I need to keep educating and creating additional soldiers. I am reminded by my spouse of all the new pro-White sites existing on the net including older ones like this that are growing in numbers. I’m impressed by the change in numbers over the past 8 years since I’ve been following along. Sure, not enough. But the numbers are definitely increasing, and Whites are more outspoken and angry. Ten years ago I felt like I was on my own with the few occasional stragglers. We have soldiers across the globe. We need more soldiers. Keep spreading the word. NumbersUSA

        • Martel

          Its a dynasty in shambles, some ‘familymembers’ decide to jump ship, I rather see it as a challenge. There will always be traitors, it comes natural to many, the key is to increase the risks of doing so and to decrease its rewards. The fact remains, the only thing which matters now is to enjoy it, and inspire others to do the same. Whether we win or not is secondary.

  • Spartacus

    “As long as whites continue to avoid and deny their own racial identity .
    . . [they] will have no chance to resist their dispossession and their
    eventual and possible physical destruction.”


    At this point, that’s not “possible”, it’s almost innevitable .

  • sbuffalonative

    Thank you Mr. Cavanaugh for this tribute to Mr. Francis and helping to keep his legacy alive.

    PS, wasn’t it Mr. Francis who coined the term ‘the stupid party’ (or did he just popularize it)?

    • geralddmartin

      “The stupid party” derives from remarks John Stuart Mill made about English conservatives, “Although it’s true not all conservatives are stupid, most stupid people are conservative.” I don’t know who first put it in its present form.

      • Homo_Occidentalis

        What constituted a conservative/liberal in John Stuart Mill’s day and one in the present day are two VERY different things. In his day, a liberal was someone against the idea of monarchy, or possibly even any form of hereditary aristocracy. A liberal nowadays is someone who thinks two thirds of every upper-middle class paycheck should be sent to Uncle Sam so he can build more section 8 housing and transgender washrooms.

        • IstvanIN

          The slippery slope. Take the aristocrcies accumulated wealth away because “they didn’t earn it”. Then you attack the wealthy landowners and businessmen, because they “have more than enough”. Then the successful professionals, then the middle-class, then the working class, all in the name of the poor. “Liberals” , who really aren’t, only seem to be able to uplift the downtrodden by making everyone but themselves downtrodden.

  • LovelyNordicHeidi

    “Both died young: O’Connor at 39 and Francis at 57.”

    Why do pro-Whites die YOUNG so often?!

    Is it the stress or just bad luck?

    I think the former in combination with the latter.

    • Spartacus

      Or maybe they’re “helped” along…

      • LovelyNordicHeidi

        Hopefully we won’t suffer that fate

        Your posts are always really good, by the way.

        How do you become a top commenter?

        I just want to know the expert’s advice!

        • Spartacus

          I just write the first thing that comes to mind.

    • jeffaral

      Well, I’m 88 and still pretty healthy. I think it’s Heidi that keeps me alive.

  • Sick of it

    “As long as whites continue to avoid and deny their own racial identity .
    . . [they] will have no chance to resist their dispossession and their
    eventual and possible physical destruction.” – Sam Francis

    That pretty much says it all.

  • indoctrination_FAIL

    Uh, Multi: You copied and pasted something that, in this forum, is non-controversial, and enclosed it in puzzling, non-information-adding punctuation.

    What, exactly, is your point? I’m at a loss here…

  • Epiminondas

    Splendidly written. Thanks.

  • SoCal Patriot

    The saddest thing about the death of Mr.Francis, is the fact that he didn’t have any children to carry on his family name.

    • Yeah, I have a hard time understanding childless advocates of white survival. I’m not casting judgment on Mr. Francis–I have no idea what his personal situation was (research project for later). But I do believe that the first and foremost duty of anyone claiming to be interested in the survival of the European peoples is to find a suitable mate and procreate, procreate, procreate.

      • IstvanIN

        There have always been people who haven’t married, doesn’t diminish their contributions to society. We can all provide support in different ways.

        • True, but barring unfortunate circumstances (infertility, e.g.), I’m of the opinion we should all be having children–it doesn’t preclude (at least I don’t think it does) doing other important work, and it is the bottom line requirement for the survival of our people.

      • Tim_in_Indiana

        That kind of attitude is exclusionary, whereas our movement needs to be as inclusive of whites–all whites–as possible. No one who cares about our race should be subjected to pointed questions as to why they don’t have children. Best way to drive away whites that we desperately need to attract.

  • jeffaral

    I always distrust intellectuals irrespective of their political inclination.

  • I knew Sam Francis personally.

    Here’s all I’ll say about this matter: He pulled back from some of his punches in his professional writing.

    And not just about matters of racial hierarchy.

  • Spartacus

    Yes I AM .

  • Carney3

    I cherish the memory of my brief one-on-one conversations with him. I specifically remember his praise for the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an example of cultural touchpoints for whites to draw emotional strength from.

  • tylerkent

    It is good of Mr. Cavanaugh to memorialize our late friend. But I must point out that far from being a “romantic fatalist” or “Presbyterian,” Sam was in fact a materialist and a realist. Religion was of little interest to him, except as cultural phenomena. He was what James Burnham would have called a Machiavellian social/political analyst. I feel compelled to add that I don’t think his death could by any stretch of the imagination be called “fortunate.”

  • LHathaway

    Sam gives a great talk, on Building white racial consciousness, then makes 2 racist comments during his speech and another one during the question answer session? One comment was ‘sure you can kill more people with machine guns than you can with spears’. Surely, someone who is speaking on this very topic, knows these are things which would turn off most educated listeners? Is he speaking to the uneducated? Is he just determined to be himself, and not giving up his own principles?

    It was a great talk, none-the-less.

    • tlk244182

      I honestly dont find the spear comment racist. Sanguine, yes, but not racist. I thought it was a sharp, colorful counter-punch at the common and frankly effective argument that Whites must be more evil than Coloreds because Whites are assumed to have a higher body count.
      What was the other comment you found racist?

  • LHathaway

    I wouldn’t mind be called a professional white. . .

  • The Verdict of History

    This excellent. Thank you sir!

  • Jon

    Think both of them would be personally attacked by the PC police today because it was just building up then but today is in full force. We say we have free speech but in truth we do not or at least not in full measure. To say whether it was good or not that they died young is up to each person to decide. Today honest debate is hard to find.

  • Funruffian

    Sam Francis sure swings a good argument for White identity and Race-realism. This speech took place before I became a race realist.

  • WR_the_realist

    The population growth in the US is entirely due to non-whites, both due to non-white immigration and higher fertility of non-whites. The American white population declined in absolute numbers in 2013, and that trend will only accelerate.