(July 20, 1934 – March 3, 2015) was an American journalist, author and educator. Evans was awarded honorary doctorates from Syracuse University, John Marshall Law School, Grove City College and Francisco Marroquín University. He is a past winner of two Freedom Foundation awards for editorial writing and the National Headliners Club Award for “consistently outstanding editorial pages.” Evans was also awarded the Heartland Institute's Heartland Freedom Prize, the Media Research Center's William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence,Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine award for excellence in journalism, the American Spectator's Barbara Olson Award for Excellence & Independence in Journalism, the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs' John M. Ashbrook Award, the ISI's Regnery Award for Distinguished Institutional Service and fourFreedoms Foundation George Washington medals. Troy University's Hall School of Journalism hosts an annual M. Stanton Evans symposium named in his honor, as is the M. Stanton Evans Alumni Award.
He was the author of ten books, including
Evans was born in Kingsville, Texas to Medford Bryan Evans, a college professor, author, and United States Atomic Energy Commission official, and classics scholar Josephine Stanton Evans. He grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
As an undergraduate, Evans was an editor for the Yale Daily News. It was at Yale that he read One Is a Crowd byFrank Chodorov. In The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, George H. Nash writes:
|“||It was the first libertarian book he [Evans] had ever read, and [he said] it 'opened up more intellectual perspectives to me than did the whole Yale curriculum.' Evans came to believe that Chodorov 'probably had more to do with the conscious shaping of my political philosophy than any other person'.||”|
Upon graduation, Evans became assistant editor of The Freeman, where Chodorov was editor. The following year, he joined the staff of William F. Buckley's fledgling National Review (where he served as associate editor from 1960 to 1973), and became managing editor of Human Events, where he remained a contributing editor until his death.
Evans became a proponent of National Review co-editor Frank Meyer's "fusionism", a political philosophy reconciling the traditionalist and libertarian tendencies of the conservative movement. He argued that freedom and virtue are not antagonistic, but complementary:
|“||The idea that there is some sort of huge conflict between religious values and liberty is a misstatement of the whole problem. The two are inseparable. ... [I]f there are no moral axioms, why should there be any freedom?
The conservative believes that ours is a God-centered, and therefore an ordered, universe; that man’s purpose is to shape his life to the patterns of order proceeding from the Divine center of life; and that, in seeking this objective, man is hampered by a fallible intellect and vagrant will. Properly construed, this view is not only compatible with a due regard for human freedom, but demands it.
In 1959, Evans became head editorial writer of The Indianapolis News, rising to editor the following year—at 26, the nation's youngest editor of a metropolitan daily newspaper—a position he held until 1974. In 1971, Evans became a commentator for the CBS Television and Radio Networks, and in 1980 became a commentator for National Public Radio, the Voice of America, Radio America and WGMS-FM in Washington, D.C.
In 1974, he became a nationally syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times syndicate. Barry Goldwater wrote that Evans "writes with the strength and conviction and authority of experience." In a 1975 radio address, Ronald Reagan cited Evans as "a very fine journalist." In 1977, he founded the National Journalism Center, where he served as director until 2002. In 1980, he became an adjunct professor of journalism at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, where he held the Buchanan Chair of Journalism.
M. Stanton Evans, Who Helped Shape Conservative Movement, Is Dead at 80
By ADAM CLYMER MARCH 3, 2015
M. Stanton Evans, an early leader of the conservative movement in American politics and an author of its central manifesto, the Sharon Statement, died on Tuesday at a nursing home in Leesburg, Va. He was 80.
A longtime friend, Patrick S. Korten, said the cause was pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Evans was the editor of The Indianapolis News, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, a radio and television commentator, a journalism teacher and the author of a raft of books, including a defense of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, in his anti-communist crusade.
Mr. Evans said he became a conservative in 1949, as a teenager, after reading George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” at the height of the Cold War.
“It was about communism,” he said in an interview for this obituary in 2010. “I said: ‘Well, I’m against communism. What am I for?’ ”
One of his first contributions to the conservative cause was perhaps the most significant. At 26, he drafted the statement of principles upon which Young Americans for Freedom, the first substantial national conservative organization, was created in September 1960. He was chosen for the task because of his editorial writing in Indianapolis.
The Sharon Statement — so-called because the founding meeting was held at William F. Buckley Jr.’s home in Sharon, Conn. — drew on the major streams of conservative thought, including religious freedom, free-market economics and an unbending resistance to communism.
The statement began by asserting “foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will.”
It viewed the United States Constitution as the consummate prescription for limited government, calling it “the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power.”
When government interferes with the market economy, the statement said, “it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation.”
Finally, it said, “the forces of international communism are, at present, the greatest single threat” to liberty. “The United States,” it added, “should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace.”
More than a manifesto for young conservatives, however, the document proved to be a seminal document in bringing different kinds of conservatives together.
Mr. Evans worked to unify conservatives for many years, especially as head of the American Conservative Union from 1971 to 1977. Under Mr. Evans, the conservative union, which sought to function as an umbrella organization for the right, took a hard line in dealing with the White House, even when a Republican occupied it.
The union and other conservatives were disillusioned by President Richard M. Nixon’s wage and price controls and his opening to China. They were equally disheartened when Nixon’s successor, Gerald R. Ford, picked Nelson A. Rockefeller, the former governor of New York and a longtime enemy of conservatives, to be vice president. And when the Ford administration began negotiations to turn over the Panama Canal to Panama, they revolted and lined up behind Ronald Reagan in his race for the 1976 Republican nomination.
Under Mr. Evans, the conservative union joined the landmark case testing the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974. With other plaintiffs, including the generally liberal American Civil Liberties Union, the conservative union argued that limits on campaign contributions and spending violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
Ruling in 1976 in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court upheld contribution limits but not curbs on spending. For Mr. Evans and his colleagues, the decision pointed the way for groups to help finance campaigns through what became known as independent expenditures, amounting to millions of dollars in subsequent elections. They began with the hotly contested 1976 Republican primary race in North Carolina.
The conservative union spent about $250,000 on independent ads, on both radio and in newspapers, in the state attacking Mr. Ford over the canal. In one radio ad, Mr. Evans told primary voters: “Ronald Reagan would not cave in to Castro and says American sovereignty in Panama must be maintained. The choice for North Carolina Republicans is clear.”
The Reagan campaign had been faltering, but the ads helped give Reagan his first primary victory. In a 2006 interview, Mr. Evans called it one of “the most important elections in terms of the conservative movement” and “a crucial turning point” for Reagan’s nearly successful run for the 1976 presidential nomination.
Mr. Evans’s career as an author or co-author began in 1961 with “Revolt on the Campus,” an account of rising college conservatism. His most recent book was “Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government,” written with Herbert Romerstein and published in 2012.
His 2007 book, “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies,” argued that while McCarthy might have made mistakes and occasionally gone too far in his campaign to root out communists from government, he did identify many subversives and “summoned the nation to a firm-willed resistance to the communist challenge, both abroad and on the home front.”
Mr. Evans left The Indianapolis News after 15 years in 1974 (it ceased publication in 1999), but he continued to comment widely on CBS Radio, National Public Radio and the Voice of America.
The Sharon Statement and the conservative movement, he said, ultimately had mixed results. They succeeded in helping to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union, he said in the 2010 interview. But “there were many, many lost opportunities,” he added, “or at least failures to do anything effective regarding this domestic spending issue, which is now so far out of control,” as well as on “cultural issues, educational issues.” There, he said, “I don’t think we did so well.”
Medford Stanton Evans was born in Kingsville, Tex., on July 20, 1934. He grew up in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where his father worked in security for the Manhattan Project, and in Mount Rainier, Md., where his father had a similar role with the Atomic Energy Commission. Mr. Evans graduated from Yale in 1955 and worked for the conservative magazines National Review, founded that year by Mr. Buckley, and Human Events before going to Indianapolis.
Mr. Evans, who lived in Hamilton, Va., about 50 miles west of Washington, had no immediate family survivors. He married Sue Ellen Moore in 1962. They divorced in 1974.
After leaving The Indianapolis News, he taught journalism at Troy University in Alabama for more than 30 years. From 1977 to 2002 he led the National Journalism Center in Washington, which was established with financial help from the conservative union.
Mr. Evans acknowledged that his reputation probably attracted conservatives to the center to train under him — among them were the commentators Ann Coulter and John Fund — but many of his students, like the ABC News reporter Terry Moran, became reporters rather than columnists, he said, and he had no idea of their ideology.
“I tell my students,” he said, “even if you are an opinion journalist, your opinion should be based on facts.”
A version of this article appears in print on March 4, 2015, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: M. Stanton Evans, Who Helped Shape Conservative Movement, Is Dead at 80. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe
Conservatives have lost a political icon
M. Stanton Evans had more influence on the average American life than the average American possibly knows. He was the relatively obscure architect of a political movement that changed this country forever. He died last week at age 80.
Google “M. Stanton Evans,” and post-mortem articles emerge that explain how he engineered the modern conservative movement that parlayed Ronald Reagan into the White House.
It began with his book “Revolt on the Campus” in 1961, written after he graduated magna cum laude from Yale and studied under Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises at New York University. The book told of a rising tide of conservative students on college campuses.
During a meeting of friends at the home of William F. Buckley Jr., in Sharon, Conn., Evans wrote “The Sharon Statement” — the founding principles for Young Americans for Freedom. After his death, The New York Times called it the “central manifesto” of the modern conservative movement. It emphasized the need for victory over communism rather than “coexistence with this menace.”
“More than a manifesto for young conservatives, however, the document proved to be a seminal document in bringing different kinds of conservatives together,” The Times wrote.
Evans went on to chair the American Conservative Union — the organization responsible for CPAC. He was disillusioned with Richard Nixon’s price controls, quipping: “I was never for Richard Nixon until Watergate.”
The Washington Times called him “the funniest serious man in America … .”
His displeasure with Nixon, and subsequently with President Gerald Ford, led Evans to voice radio ads for Reagan. Using $250,000 of conservative union funds (big money in ’76), Evans told North Carolina primary voters: “Ronald Reagan would not cave in to Castro and says American sovereignty in Panama must be maintained.”
“The ads helped give Reagan his first primary victory,” wrote The Times, and it set the stage for his nomination and election four years later. Evans became a friend and adviser to Reagan. But his influence on politics and culture was more from the ground up than the top down.
Having served as the country’s youngest editor of a major metropolitan daily — the Indianapolis News — Evans was discouraged by the conservative movement’s lack of journalists and writers. So he founded the National Journalism Center in 1977 with a grant from the Coors Foundation.
Based in Washington, D.C., students are immersed in free-market principles and the importance of primary sourcing. Graduates include Terry Moran of ABC’s Nightline, journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, former Wall Street Journal editorial page editor John Fund, Fox News anchor Greg Gutfeld and hundreds of others who have taken what Evans taught them into the mainstream media.
Evans was never one to compromise core conservative values, but he was a uniter. He, more than any other, created a big tent under which libertarians, neo-conservatives, paleoconservatives, the religious right and moderates could get along.
— The Colorado Springs Gazette