New York State and the Rise of Modern Conservatism

Redrawing Party Lines

By Timothy J. Sullivan

Subjects: Political Parties, New York State Government, History
Paperback : 9780791476444, 257 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791476437, 257 pages, December 2008

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

1. A New Party
2. Joining the Movement
3. Attracting New Conservatives
4. The Beginnings of Change
5. A Conservative Senator
6. Disputed Lines
7. Finishing the Job

Recounts the shift towards conservatism in New York’s Republican Party in the 1960s and 1970s.


From the early 1960s until 1980 New York's Conservative and Republican Parties battled on the editorial page, at the ballot box, and in the courts over the ideology of the GOP. New York State and the Rise of Modern Conservatism recounts the story of how New York, reputedly the most liberal of all states, played a critical role in conservatism's political ascendancy and in the redrawing, according to ideology, of the country's party lines. Examining the colorful personalities central to the transformation, including Governor Nelson Rockefeller, William F. Buckley Jr., John Lindsay, Roy Cohn, Jackie Robinson, Clare Booth Luce, G. Gordon Liddy, and William Casey, author Timothy J. Sullivan recounts the details of the party's battle, a battle that ultimately forced the state's liberal Republicans to choose between their party and their ideology, resulting in a reliably conservative national GOP prepared to nominate Ronald Reagan.

Timothy J. Sullivan teaches at Mount Saint Mary's University.


"Despite the wealth of words on the conservative revival that have appeared since the 'Age of Reagan' began in 1981 … [Sullivan has] found new and important things to say … engaging and insightful." — American Historical Review

"The book moves crisply through each election cycle, with special attention given to presidential elections, the candidacies of William F. Buckley and James L. Buckley, and the Party's relationship to Nixon … for those interested in conservatism, this book illuminates a small but fascinating piece of a much larger story." — Political Science Quarterly

"…[a] detailed yet readable story of the Conservative Party." — CHOICE

"This book describes a significant moment in New York's political history. It sheds a great deal of light on the political and ideological history of the last forty years, including the reasons for the decline of Rockefeller Republicanism, the party's subsequent shift to the Right, and the rise of ideological third-party politics." — Vincent J. Cannato, author of The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York