Columbians Ahead of Their Time

"Liberty produces wealth, and wealth destroys liberty."

Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847–1903)
Columbia College 1867, Law 1869

Henry Demarest Lloyd altered the courses of both labor relations and journalism through his progressive polemics in the late 19th century. After an early stint in politics, Lloyd turned to writing in an effort to influence popular opinion. In 1881, he published "Story of a Great Monopoly," an exposé of the railroads and Standard Oil, in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly. The story caused such a sensation that the issue had to be reprinted six times. As Walter J. Couper notes in the Dictionary of American Biography: " With this article Lloyd became the first, as he remained perhaps the greatest, of the new 'muck-rakers.'" Lloyd followed that article with others, always solemnly decrying evil monopolists and, equally solemnly, celebrating the cause of the underclass. In 1885, he left journalism and a steady position at the Chicago Tribune to act as a spokesman for causes such as insane asylum reform, organized labor, and academic freedom. Lloyd also became involved with the National People's Party, an independent political group for which he served (unsuccessfully) as a congressional nominee in 1894. He later withdrew from the pursuit of elected offices, preferring to write about reform from the cozy sanctity of his two homes. His books—Wealth Against Commonwealth (1894), Labour Copartnership (1898), Newest England (1900), A Country Without Strikes (1900), and A Sovereign People (1907)—were widely read.

Lloyd came to Columbia from a Reformist family, a political perspective that was buttressed by his College studies with Francis Lieber, the political philosopher whose Code for the Government of Armies in the Field (1863) laid the foundation for conventions of war. Lloyd's time at Columbia also developed his strengths in argumentation; according to Peter Frederick, he is known to have "distinguished himself with his facility as an orator and writer" at Columbia.

Jerry Mitchell's 2005 acceptance speech praises muckrakers.

Lloyd is eulogized in the Journalism School's online review.

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Columbians Ahead of Their Time

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