A Tale of Two Hazlitts

I had no idea that the great economic journalist Henry Hazlitt was indeed related to the great essayist William Hazlitt. Turns out, according to this archival Time article about H. Hazlitt succeeding H.L. Mencken as editor of the American Mercury, William was Henry’s great-great-great uncle. I’m grateful to Scott Lahti for bringing this to my attention.

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7 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Hazlitts

  1. Scott Lahti March 22, 2008 / 9:03 am

    Other nuggets of Hazlittiana from the TIME archives:

    tinyurl.com/3xxod7

    1942: “To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Public Library of Port Washington chose the popular books from the best available sales figures; and asked a group of ‘informed people’ to say what books “have most profoundly affected the thoughts and actions of mankind” since 1892. On the jury were Charles A. Beard, Henry Seidel Canby, John Dewey, Jerome Frank, Henry Hazlitt, John Kieran, Walter Lippmann, Somerset Maugham, Christopher Morley, William Lyon Phelps, Norman Thomas, Carl Van Doren…Henry Hazlitt was the only juryman to name Joyce’s Ulysses.”

    1944: “A little known but lively survivor of the once powerful U.S. Socialist press this week celebrated its 21st anniversary. Manhattan’s weekly tabloid New Leader is a mouthpiece for many shades of liberal and leftish opinion, except Trotskyists, Stalinists and Norman Thomas Socialists. It is against the Stalin dictatorship and what the New Leader calls the ‘Kremlin set’ of U.S. liberals…It aims at filtering ideas and opinions from the top, through union leaders, intellectuals, government officials. Its lifeblood is a steady stream of free literary contributions from such heavyweights, high-priced or otherwise, as Hunter College President George Shuster, New York University Philosopher Sidney Hook, John Chamberlain, Max Eastman, Ferdinand Lundberg, the New York Times’s Henry Hazlitt, Brooklyn College President Harry Gideonse, Lewis Mumford, Raymond Leslie Buell, William Green, Matthew Woll, Walter Reuther— some of whom would be outraged if they were called Socialists or leftists…The New Leader’s week-to-week special delight is the exposure of Communists and Communist policy in liberal organizations, unions and government agencies. In the anniversary edition a list by Max Eastman of liberals who have sacrificed ‘moral character’ by kowtowing to Russian totalitarianism includes Max Lerner of Manhattan’s tabloid PM, Paul Robeson, Thomas Mann, Dorothy Parker and Editor Freda Kirchwey of the liberal weekly Nation…The pinko New Republic has been found by the New Leader to show symptoms of ‘totalitarian liberalism’ and also to be ‘a journal of subsidized opinion.’ (The New Republic, non-interventionist until a few months before Pearl Harbor, shifted to reflect the views of its owner, Mrs. Leonard K. Elmhirst. U.S.-born, she has become a British citizen, was co-founder of the New Republic with her late husband, Willard Straight.)…Daniel Bell, 24, who was a working Socialist on Manhattan’s lower East Side at 13, is an associate editor…New Leader’s editors and staff (two girls), beaming over anniversary messages, recall amusedly one last year from a prominent anti-Communist whom the paper has often attacked. It read: ‘I find myself puzzled by its temperateness and very good humor—Westbrook Pegler.'”

    1950: “Co-editors Hazlitt, LaFollette and Chamberlain, old friends, have long had the idea for the magazine, but lacked the financial backing. A year ago they teamed up with Alfred Kohlberg, a wealthy New York linen importer and stout supporter of Chiang Kaishek. At the time, Kohlberg was backing the anti-Communist monthly Plain Talk…After hearing the LaFollette-Hazlitt-Chamberlain plan, he decided to fold up faltering Plain Talk and transfer the 5,000 unexpired subscriptions to The Freeman.”

    1951: “Chronoscope (Mon. 11 p.m., CBS-TV) sets out to find ‘the truth in the vital issues of the hour,’ a fairly large order for a discussion panel that sits for only 15 minutes and is repeatedly interrupted by commercials for Longines-Wittnauer watches. The resident truth-seekers are Veteran Newsman Frank Taylor (former managing editor of the late St. Louis Star-Times—see PRESS) and Newsweek Contributing Editor Henry Hazlitt. As guest performer on the opening show, Admiral William Blandy doubted that the Soviet Union would start a war, but urged ‘anticipatory retaliation’ whenever U.S. Intelligence indicated that Russia was planning an aggressive move.”

    1952: “On the other hand, the Freeman often shouts at its enemies in the same shrill tones it damns the left for using. In defending Senator McCarthy, for example, it calls his critics ‘mad’ people who, like Pavlov’s dogs, ‘foam’ at the mouth every time his name is mentioned. It extravagantly hails John T. Flynn (The Road Ahead, While You Slept) as the ‘keenest journalist of our day,’ although many rightists think Flynn’s hatred of Franklin Roosevelt has blinded his once sharp reporter’s eye. The Freeman itself is often so blinded by its own extreme right-wing prejudices that it labels ‘ “liberal” Republicans’ (i.e., those who don’t think Taft can win) ‘illiterates.'”

    1953: “The trouble really started after Freeman Editor Henry Hazlitt brought Forrest Davis, ex-Saturday Evening Post Washington editor, to the magazine. Instead of being Hazlitt’s man, Davis had ideas of his own on how to run the magazine, and Chamberlain and Managing Editor Suzanne La Follette generally agreed. In short order Hazlitt had a falling-out with them. Among other things he also objected to putting out the ‘kind of magazine in which McCarthy is a sacred character.’ In October Hazlitt, Newsweek contributing editor and onetime (1934-46) New York Times editorial writer, resigned, though he had the backing of other director-stockholders…With the board lined up against them, Editors Chamberlain Davis La Follette also resigned. Then the directors present unanimously brought back Henry Hazlitt as top editor. As soon as Hazlitt assembles a new staff he expects to recreate a Freeman with a quieter voice. Said he: ‘I want to put out a journal of opinion which will represent the older liberalism and that puts emphasis i liberty of the individual . . . and conduct it with a certain authority.’ Ex-Editors Chamberlain, Davis and La Follette immediately began discussing starting their own new magazine.”

  2. Brent Burk March 23, 2008 / 5:53 am

    I wanted to get a hardcover of Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, but I can never find it. I did see a softcover one at Borders that had a quote by Ron Paul on the front cover, I thought that was pretty neat. But I was stupid and didn’t buy it and now when I went back to get it it wasn’t there :[ .

  3. Daniel McCarthy March 24, 2008 / 5:14 am

    Thanks, Scott. I’ve never seen a hardcover copy of the book myself.

  4. Facts May 24, 2010 / 6:23 pm

    You probably didnt know this: Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died of alcohol overdose. It is said that he downed 18 bottles of whisky before he passed away in his sleep.

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