Harry Victor Jaffa

Harry Victor Jaffa

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 10 Jan 2015 (aged 96)
Pomona, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Memorial ID 141352914 · View Source
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Political philosopher, Lincoln scholar, conservative academic, and author of political histories.

Dr. Jeffa earned a BA in English literature from Yale University and a Ph.D. in political philosophy from The New School for Social Research in New York. After teaching at Ohio State University from 1951-1964, he began his career at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, where he taught three generations of students and was a distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute. He was the author of ten books, including his most celebrated book, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1959); A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War; and, Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution.

The German-American political philosopher and classicist Leo Strauss, whose philosophy provided a foundation for the neoconservative movement in America, was a major influence on Dr. Jaffa. Among conservative contemporaries with whom Dr. Jaffa vigorously debated matters of political philosophy and the U.S. Constitution were William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, Willmoore Kindall, and Robert Bork. In his early days, Dr. Jaffa was involved in the political arena as an adviser to Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. One of Goldwater's famous statements penned by Jaffa -- that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" -- served to cast Goldwater as an extremist. While Goldwater's candidacy came to an ignominious electoral defeat, Dr. Jaffa believed, and it proved to be the case, that the campaign was pivotal in the rise of conservative politics in the latter half of the 20th Century.

Harry Jaffa was the son of Arthur and Frances Landau Jaffa. He married Marjorie Butler in 1942; they had a daughter Karen Jaffa McGoldrick and two sons, Donald and Philip.

A comprehensive commentary on Jaffa's life and work may be found in the article by John J. Miller, "The House of Jaffa," at National Review Online, January 12, 2015.

The digital edition of the Claremont Review of Books, retrieved Mar. 31, 2015, contains numerous tributes to Jaffe, preceded by the following:

"Remembering Harry V. Jaffa

Editor’s note: To honor the Claremont Institute’s Distinguished Fellow Harry V. Jaffa, we published in our Winter 2014/15 issue [of the Claremont Review of Books] the eulogies offered at his memorial service by Larry P. Arnn, Edward J. Erler, Michael M. Uhlmann, and Thomas G. West, and the reminiscences of a more recent student, Michael Anton. Here, we have invited more friends and colleagues to share their memories of our late teacher."

These splendid, personal and fascinating eulogies are a testimony to Harry Jaffa's profound influence on all who knew him and studied with him.



January 14, 2015 10:56 AM

Harry V. Jaffa, professor emeritus of government at Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont Graduate School, died on Saturday, January 10, 2015. He was 96.

Mr. Jaffa was one of the founders and a distinguished fellow of The Claremont Institute, a noted conservative think tank.
His funeral will be held on Friday, January 16 at 1:30 p.m. at Todd Memorial Chapel, 325 N. Indian Hill Blvd. in Claremont, followed by graveside services at Oak Park Cemetery, 410 Sycamore Ave. A full account of Mr. Jaffa’s life will be featured in an upcoming edition of the [Claremont] COURIER. (Obituary from Todd Memorial Chapel web site. The Courier obituary was published in its Jan. 15, 2015 edition, available online.)

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  • Created by: Terry Ellen (Todd) Ferl
  • Added: 15 Jan 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 141352914
  • Terry Ellen (Todd) Ferl
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Harry Victor Jaffa (7 Oct 1918–10 Jan 2015), Find A Grave Memorial no. 141352914, citing Oak Park Cemetery, Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Terry Ellen (Todd) Ferl (contributor 47880583) .