Willmoore Kendall

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Willmoore Kendall
Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedJune 30, 1967
EducationUniversity of Oklahoma
University of Illinois
OccupationPolitical philosopher

Willmoore Kendall (1909 – June 30, 1967)[1] was an American conservative writer and a professor of political philosophy.

Early life and education[edit]

Kendall was born in 1909 to a blind minister in Oklahoma. He learned to read at 2, graduated from high school at 13, from the University of Oklahoma at 18, and published his first book at 20. In 1932, he became a Rhodes scholar and studied at the University of Oxford.

Kendall became a Trotskyist and went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. His experiences with the Spanish Republic led him to renounce his former communism. In 1940, he obtained a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois writing his dissertation upon John Locke on Majority Rule, under Francis Wilson. He served in the Office of Strategic Services in World War II and stayed on when it became the CIA, in 1947.


Kendall joined the Yale University faculty in 1947, where he taught for 14 quarrelsome years until Yale paid him a handsome sum to resign. In 1961, he surrendered tenure and departed.[2] Among his students was William F. Buckley, Jr. with whom he participated in the founding of National Review; as a senior editor, he constantly fought with the other editors (it is said that he was never on speaking terms with more than one person at a time). Another student that Kendall strongly influenced on the Right was Brent Bozell, who he also taught at Yale.[3] Kendall also influenced Buckley's ideas in the National Review because he explained that liberals were a small minority group in the community.[4] A friend, Professor Revilo P. Oliver, gave him credit with convincing him to enter political activism by writing for National Review.[5]

Kendall defended the majority-rule democracy in America which he is often best known for.[6] He is often forgotten as a founder of the conservative movement because he never wrote a "big book," rather he put together a collection of reviews and essays.[7]

Kendall later converted to Roman Catholicism, taught at the University of Dallas, was a founder of the politics program, and was co-founder of the doctoral program there. Kendall was also the Chairman of the Department of Politics and Economics at the University.[8] He stayed at that institution until he died of a heart attack, in 1967.


Kendall is the model for the character Jesse Frank in S. Zion's 1990 novel Markers.[9]


Books by Kendall[edit]

  • Baseball: How to Play It and How to Watch It (1927, as Alan Monk), Haldeman-Julius Publications.
  • Democracy and the American Party System (1956 with Austin Ranney), Harcourt, Brace.
  • John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority-Rule (1959), The University of Illinois Press. Full text
  • The Conservative Affirmation (1963) (republished in 1985 by Regnery Books).
  • Willmoore Kendall Contra Mundum (1971, edited by Nellie Kendall), Arlington House (republished in 1994 by University Press of America, ISBN 0-8191-9067-5).
  • The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (1970, with George W. Carey), Louisiana State University Press (republished in 1995 by Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 0-8132-0826-2).
  • Oxford Years: Letters of Willmore Kendall to His Father, (1993, edited by Yvonna Kendall Mason), ISI Books. ISBN 1-882926-02-1

About Kendall[edit]

  • Willmoore Kendall: Maverick of American Conservatives, Alvis, John, and Murley, John, eds. Lexington Books. (Review.)


  1. ^ "The Eric Voegelin–Willmoore Kendall Correspondence," The Political Science Reviewer, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2004, p. 412 (footnote).
  2. ^ Ceaser, James W. and Robert Maranto (2009). "Why Political Science Is Left But Not Quite PC: Causes of Disunion and Diversity." In The Politically Correct University: Problems, Scope, and Reforms, Robert Maranto (ed.), Richard E. Redding (ed.), Frederick M. Hess (ed.), Washington, D.C.: The American Enterprise Institute Press, p. 219.
  3. ^ Kazin, Michael (1995). The Populist Persuasion. New York: BasicBooks. p. 171. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ Kazin, Michael (1995). The Populist Persuasion. New York: BasicBooks. p. 172. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ Revilo P. Oliver, Autobiographical Note.
  6. ^ Havers, Grant. "Willmoore Kendall for Our Times." Modern Age, vol. 53, no. 1/2, Winter/Spring2011, pp. 121-124. EBSCOhost, libproxy.unl.edu/login?url=http://0-search.ebscohost.com.library.unl.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=71939502&site=ehost-live.
  7. ^ McCarthy, Daniel. "Willmoore Kendall: Forgotten Founder of Conservatism". The Imaginative Conservative. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  8. ^ http://www.mmisi.org/pr/03_01/east.pdf
  9. ^ Hart, Jeffrey (1990). "Debts Paid in Full," National Review, Vol. 42, No. 11, pp. 52–53.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]