The National Review publishes its first issue.
National Review is an American semi-monthly conservative editorial magazine focusing on news and commentary pieces on political, social, and cultural affairs. The magazine was founded by the author William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955. It is currently edited by Rich Lowry.
Since its founding, the magazine has played a significant role in the development of conservatism in the United States, helping to define its boundaries and promoting fusionism while establishing itself as a leading voice on the American right.
The online version, National Review Online, is edited by Charles C. W. Cooke and includes free content and articles separate from the print edition.
Before National Review’s founding in 1955, the American right was a largely unorganized collection of people who shared intertwining philosophies but had little opportunity for a united public voice. They also wanted to marginalize what they saw as the antiwar, noninterventionistic views of the Old Right.
In 1953 moderate Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, and many major magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Time, and Reader’s Digest were strongly conservative and anticommunist, as were many newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and St. Louis Globe-Democrat. A few small-circulation conservative magazines, such as Human Events and The Freeman, preceded National Review in developing Cold War Conservatism in the 1950s.
On November 19, 1955, Buckley’s magazine began to take shape. Buckley assembled an eclectic group of writers: traditionalists, Catholic intellectuals, libertarians and ex-Communists. The group included: Russell Kirk, James Burnham, Frank Meyer, and Willmoore Kendall, Catholics L. Brent Bozell and Garry Wills. The former Time editor Whittaker Chambers, who had been a Communist spy in the 1930s, eventually became a senior editor. In the magazine’s founding statement Buckley wrote:
Let’s Face it: Unlike Vienna, it seems altogether possible that did National Review not exist, no one would have invented it. The launching of a conservative weekly journal of opinion in a country widely assumed to be a bastion of conservatism at first glance looks like a work of supererogation, rather like publishing a royalist weekly within the walls of Buckingham Palace. It is not that of course; if National Review is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no other is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.
As editors and contributors, Buckley especially sought out intellectuals who were ex-Communists or had once worked on the far Left, including Whittaker Chambers, William Schlamm, John Dos Passos, Frank Meyer and James Burnham. When James Burnham became one of the original senior editors, he urged the adoption of a more pragmatic editorial position that would extend the influence of the magazine toward the political center. Smant finds that Burnham overcame sometimes heated opposition from other members of the editorial board, and had a significant effect on both the editorial policy of the magazine and on the thinking of Buckley himself