William F. Buckley Jr.? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: I am trying to verify a quotation from the conservative commentator and novelist William F. Buckley Jr. It goes something like this:
I would rather be governed by the first 1,000 people listed in the phone book than by the faculty members from an Ivy League University.
I do not recall if the phone book was for a particular city, and I do not know whether a specific university was named. Could you please help me to find a citation?
Quote investigator: William F. Buckley attended Yale University as an undergraduate, and he wrote critically about the institution in his book “God and Man at Yale”; however, a different school of higher learning appeared in his saying about governance. The earliest instance located by QI appeared in a profile and interview of Buckley in “Esquire” magazine in January 1961: 1
“I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory,” he said, “than by the Harvard University faculty.”
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1961 January, Esquire magazine, William F. Buckley, Jr.: Portrait of a Complainer by Dan Wakefield, Quote Page 50, Esquire, Inc., New York. (Verified with microfilm) ↩