Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly died on Monday afternoon.
The “Sweetheart of the Silent Majority” passed away surrounded by family in her home in Ladue, Missouri just a short 10-minute drive from where she was born in St. Louis on August 15, 1924.
Her death marks a palpable loss for the conservative movement which, just last month, celebrated the grassroots heroine’s 92nd birthday.
An accomplished lawyer, activist, author, and mother of six, Phyllis Schlafly has been described as the embodiment of the ideal American woman.
As Sen. Jeff Sessions wrote in a statement submitted for the Congressional Record, “dynamic, smart, beautiful, and articulate,” Schlafly has “fearlessly” and “tirelessly… championed the American family and American values.”
In 1963, the publisher of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat put it this way: “Phyllis Schlafly stands for everything that has made America great and for those things which will keep it that way.”
Schlafly enjoyed a rich family life. Married in 1949, she and her late-husband, Fred, shared forty-four happy years together as well as six children, sixteen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Never one to see her femininity as antithetical to her career goals, Schlafly was awarded Illinois’ Mother of the Year only a few years before being named one of the 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century by the Ladies’ Home Journal.
Revered for her steadfast judgement, Schlafly was a guiding light to many conservatives, who looked to her to determine the political battles of the day. Most recently, the “godmother of the conservative movement” led the charge against the Gang of Eight amnesty plan and President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Unafraid to go toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful men in the nation, Schlafly was known for engaging in fights of principle all while projecting her irresistible charm, grace and wit.
Schlafly understood feminism not as an effort to erase or wipe away the unique, distinguishing features of women, but rather to embrace and encourage all of the special and wondrous things about womanhood. Whereas modern feminism teaches that a little girl is not so different from a little boy and that society should recognize no real difference between the two, Schlafly celebrated motherhood and femininity, and perceived the differences amongst the sexes as something to be extolled rather than repressed.
A vocal proponent for empowering all Americans, Schlafly fought tirelessly against the social institutions that teach the “absolutely false” narrative that “women are victims of the patriarchy and [that] it’s up to new laws in the Constitution to remedy this second-class citizenship of women.”
“American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the earth,” Schlafly proclaimed in 2012. “We can do anything we want to do.”
Schlafly’s life was truly a testament to what she preached. A child of Great Depression, she paid her way through college by putting in 48-hour work weeks as a gunner testing ammunition at the largest ammunition plant in the world, the St. Louis Ordnance Plant. Schlafly tested .30 and .50 caliber ammunition for accuracy, penetration, velocity, and aircraft function before the government would accept the ammunition for the war effort during World War II. Despite the rigors of a full-time job working the midnight to 8am shift at the ordnance plant, Schlafly still managed to finish her schooling in just three years, graduating from Washington University in St. Louis Phi Beta Kappa.
She then went on to get her master’s degree in Government from Harvard University in 1945, and her J.D. from Washington University Law School in 1978.
Schlafly was active in politics for more than one-quarter of all American history.
She began volunteering for the Republican Party in 1945 when she worked as a campaign manager for Claude Bakewell, a successful Republican candidate for Congress. Schlafly attended every single Republican National Convention since 1952 and has been at the center of nearly every major political battle since then.
Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, Schlafly was instrumental in helping to launch the anti-Communist movement by forming 5,000 study groups throughout American homes to inform grassroots voters about the evils of Communism.
As an activist, Schlafly seemed driven by her mission to “educate [conservatives], train them, and stand up for them… [and to] let the grassroots be heard.”
An advocate for truth and the free dissemination of information, Schlafly spoke frequently of the need for “news people who put out the truth instead of the packaged truth that the strategists have written.”
When she found such truth-telling to be lacking in corporate media, Schlafly assumed the mantle herself. The Phyllis Schlafly Report — her monthly newsletter designed to keep conservatives informed on the pressing issues of the day — just entered its 50th year of publication with more than 600 reports published.
Schlafly had been described as the nation’s “best pamphleteer since Thomas Paine.”
Her fabled foray onto the national political stage began with the publication of her 1964 classic A Choice Not An Echo. At the time of its writing, Schlafly was a housewife in a little town of Alton, Illinois, with six small children. Recognizing that it was unlikely anyone would publish her book, she opted to publish it herself and sell it out of her garage. A huge success, the book ultimately sold over three million copies, inspired a generation of conservatives, and became the definitive text delineating the battle lines between the conservative grassroots and the Republican Party elites.
In keeping with her lifelong devotion to educating the American electorate, the book is a detailed history of Republican National Conventions, and it shined a spotlight on the corrupt political process that historically has allowed elite cosmopolitan “kingmakers” to rig the system and elect candidates who will represent their donor class agenda. Many have described her seminal work to be just as relevant today as it was when she penned it over half a century ago.
In explaining why she wrote the then-controversial book, Schlafly stated, “I made my decision in the light of what I believe to be the best interests of the America I love, the Republican Party I have served, and the voters to whom I owe a duty to speak the truth.”
The late-political commentator Bob Novak described the book as “one of the best-written, most interesting, fascinating pieces of political advocacy that I had ever read in my life.”
The book proved instrumental in leading to Barry Goldwater’s nomination at the 1964 Republican convention and launching the modern day conservative movement.
Schlafly went on to write 26 other books — many of which she had to write after 10pm when her children were asleep.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Schlafly began the formation of her “Eagle” brand — devoted to inspiring conservatives across the nation to get involved and fight for conservative principles. Today, her organization touts more than 25,000 members.
Schlafly is perhaps best known for launching the pro-family movement, which began with her decade-long crusade against the agenda of radical feminists and their efforts to push the so-called Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA had passed Congress in 1972 as part of a new wave of feminism and had been sent to the States for ratification. Because of Schlafly’s efforts, it ultimately fell three states short of being added to the Constitution.
President Ronald Reagan described Schlafly’s campaign against ERA as “brilliant” and praised her work as “an example to all those who would struggle for an America that is prosperous and free.”
The underdog campaign began with a group of just 100 women from 30 states whom Schlafly gathered together on a riverboat in St. Louis. While the riverboat traveled along the Mississippi River, Schlafly climbed onto its stage and laid out her plan to stop the ERA. She was joined on stage by a friend who sang one of Schlafly’s favorite songs, “Stout-Hearted Men,” as Schlafly urged her female followers to similarly be stout-hearted in their fight against “all the powers that be.”
At the time she began the fight, “we had everybody against us: three presidents, three first ladies, all of Congress, every governor, the media, Hollywood — and we beat them all,” Schlafly later explained.
“We proved [that] the grassroots can win if they get together and make up their mind to do it,” Schlafly said. “The grassroots can rise up and defeat all the powers that be.”
In 1976, Schlafly went to work to transform the Republican Party into the pro-life Party. She succeeded in putting a pro-life plank in every Republican Party Platform adopted at every RNC since then.
In a 2014 interview, Stephen K. Bannon asked the 89-year-old Schlafly where she gets her energy from. Her response? “You only live once.”
Schlafly’s last great political battle, which she won, was pushing for the Republican presidential nomination of Donald J. Trump, whom she saw as America’s last hope. Schlafly, who described Trump as the “only hope to defeat the Kingmakers,” became one of his earliest and most influential endorsements. With Schlafly’s backing, Trump went on to win more votes than any Republican nominee in U.S. history.
Appropriately, her final act of devotion to the country she loved was the publication of a new book, set for release this Tuesday, titled “The Conservative Case for Trump.” In it, Schlafly lays out what is at stake in this election if conservatives do not mobilize to propel Trump to the Oval Office.
Schlafly has said that this election represents America’s last chance, explaining that if Trump does not win and mass immigration is not stopped, “we’re not going to be America anymore.”
Interestingly, while Trump is performing within historical norms for Republican nominees amongst black and Hispanic voters, he is currently lagging with white voters. In particular, he is underperforming with women and college-educated whites, who have the financial means to remove themselves from the effects of mass migration and trade globalization that have provided the nation with a servant class at the expense of a middle class. If these voters were to install Hillary Clinton in the White House, with her support for trade and immigration policies that would dissolve national sovereignty, it could forever extinguish Schlafly’s dream of preserving the nation she loved.
Above all, Schlafly was an American woman and patriot of a bygone era. A Daughter of the American Revolution, Schlafly did not hide her fierce love of country, its history, and its citizens. She never cowered from a fight to defend her nation — no matter whom she had to take on in the process. As the then 91-year old Schlafly passionately told Breitbart last year, “I’m for America [slams hand on desk for emphasis] and America first [slams hand on desk again].”
In a 2009 address, Schlafly spoke directly to young audience members about what she viewed as her legacy. “What you learn from my life is, first of all, that anybody can be a leader. You can be a leader. I wasn’t born that way — I developed it, I worked at it. And also that the grassroots can organize, and take on all the powers that be and defeat them. That is the lesson.”
“Remember, those that wait upon the Lord will rise up with wings like eagles and they will run and not be weary. And don’t you ever be weary,” Schlafly told her captive audience, “Because the battle goes on, year after year, and we need all of you young people to join us in the battle.”