The Sharon Statement was adopted six decades ago today on September 11, 1960, by a group of 100 young conservatives who convened at the home of William F. Buckley in Sharon, Connecticut with the purpose of creating Young Americans for Freedom. In 2015 The New York Times recognized the Sharon Statement as a “seminal document” of the Conservative Movement and it is widely regarded by historians and thought leaders as one of the most important declarations in the history of American conservatism. Its message is timeless and has been championed by countless conservative leaders since its adoption, including President Ronald Reagan who served as YAF’s Honorary National Chairman. The Sharon Statement continues to function as the foundational document for every YAF chapter across the country.
To celebrate Young Americans for Freedom’s 60th anniversary, YAF did a deep-dive on the Sharon Statement for a series titled: “We, As Young Conservatives, Believe,” to look more closely at how it continues to speak to young Americans today. Each clause below links to analysis of the belief asserted, as well as its lasting relevance to the Conservative Movement.
The Sharon Statement
In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.
We, as young conservatives, believe:
Clause #1: That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;
Clause #2: That liberty is indivisible, and that political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom;
Clause #3: That the purpose of government is to protect those freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice;
Clause #4: That when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power, which tends to diminish order and liberty;
Clause #5: That the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power;
Clause #6: That the genius of the Constitution—the division of powers—is summed up in the clause that reserves primacy to the several states, or to the people, in those spheres not specifically delegated to the Federal government;
Clause #7: That the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom and constitutional government, and that it is at the same time the most productive supplier of human needs;
Clause #8: That when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; that when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both;
Clause #9: That we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history shows periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies;
Clause #10: That the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties;
Clause #11: That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace; and
Clause #12: That American foreign policy must be judged by this criterion: does it serve the just interests of the United States?