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Commager, Henry Steele

b. 1902 - d. 1998

Henry Steele Commager was a noted American historian and scholar-activist. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Chicago. Commager spent the majority of his teaching career at Columbia University (1936-1956) and Amherst College (1956-1992). A prolific author of books and essays, Commager also lent his voice to contemporary social issues. A staunch defender of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, he opposed McCarthyism, spoke against the Vietnam War and criticized the Nixon Administration’s illegal actions. On April 4, 1967, Commager, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Union Theological Seminary President John Bennett all offered comments at New York’s Riverside Church after Dr. King delivered his famous address opposing the Vietnam War.

Associated Archive Content : 8 results

A Historian Looks at Our Political Morality

Liberal historian Henry Steele Commager writes on the political morality of the United States. He asserts that the United States is not above the historical tendency to become corrupt, and the issue will become more important as the United States grows more powerful. He argues that the United States must reconcile the "principles of law and of morality."

Beyond Vietnam

In Dr. Kings Beyond Vietnam address, he discusses seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into "a field of moral vision," five things that the government should do to remove itself from conflict with Vietnam, the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, and Premier Diem. Dr. King also encourages those in the churches and the synagogues to speak out against the war in Vietnam.

Letter from Charles Sellers to MLK

Charles Sellers, a Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley, writes this letter to Dr. King promoting the Washington Convocation On The National Crisis. He encloses the proposal that he and Cecil Thomas discussed with Mrs. King over the phone. The proposal details the organized effort to marshal public sentiment against current US policy in Vietnam. Five hundred prominent Americans will be invited to the convocation, to be held in Washington, DC.

Letter from MLK to Mr. Eugene Patterson

Dr. King addresses Mr. Patterson's editorials discussing "sincere questions and doubts" about Dr. King's stance on the conflict in Vietnam.

Letter to Dora McDonald Regarding Persons Receiving Autographed Books

Dora McDonald receives a list of names who are to receive autographed copies of Dr. King's book. The list consists of contributors to American Foundation on Nonviolence and SCLC.

MLK Address to Chicago's Peace Parade and Rally

Dr. King discusses the nation's present-day involvement with Vietnam. The civil rights leader claims that as a nation founded on democratic and revolutionary ideas, the United States has a moral obligation to intervene on behalf of those suffering and dying throughout the world.

MLK Speaks on Vietnam War

This 32-page booklet was published by Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam shortly after Dr. King’s April 4, 1967 Riverside Church address on the Vietnam War. It features a foreword by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, Dr. King’s speech, and remarks by Henry Steele Commager, Dr. John C. Bennett, and Rabbi Abraham Heschel. In addition, it includes a New York Times interview with Dr. King, King’s response to NAACP criticism on his opposition to the war, and letters to the editor of the New York Times.

The Committee of Clergy and Laymen Speak on Vietnam

As a public service, the Committee of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam have reprinted several statements and addresses of its members. The selected addresses of Dr. King were chosen because of their poignant exposition of the then current issues surrounding the Vietnam War. In the compilation's forward, Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr takes the opportunity to address two of the misconceptions that surrounded the included works of Dr. King.