Harry V. Jaffa

Harry Victor Jaffa was born in New York City on October 18, 1918, to Arthur and Frances Landau Jaffa. After attending Yale University and graduating with a degree in English in 1939, Jaffa entered the Federal Service in Washington, D.C.

On April 25, 1942, he married Marjorie Butler, and they had three children: Donald, Philip, and Karen. They were married for sixty-eight years when Marjorie passed away in 2010.

In 1944, Jaffa enrolled at the New School for Social Research in New York City. It was there that he studied under the German exile and political philosopher Leo Strauss, a member of the Graduate Faculty in Political and Social Science.

Jaffa taught at Queens College, City College of New York, and the University of Chicago. After receiving his Ph.D. from the New School in 1951, he accepted a tenure track appointment at Ohio State University, where he taught for thirteen years.

In 1959 Jaffa published the book that established his reputation as one of the foremost scholars of the American political tradition: Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

In 1964 Jaffa served as an advisor for Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, during which he penned that campaign’s most famous lines: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

Also in 1964, he left Ohio State for Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont Graduate School. He held the post of Henry Salvatori Research Professor of Political Philosophy until his retirement in 1989, when he became professor emeritus and a distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy.

Over the course of his career, Jaffa authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited several books (see listing below), and he wrote countless articles and essays for newspapers and journals, including National Review and the Claremont Review of Books.

Harry V. Jaffa passed away on January 10, 2015, at the age of ninety-six at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in Pomona, California.

Harry V. Jaffa
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Hillsdale College is currently digitizing selected papers, research documents, notes, and personal correspondence by Harry V. Jaffa.

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