The New Republic: A Voice of Modern Liberalism

The New Republic: A Voice of Modern Liberalism

The New Republic: A Voice of Modern Liberalism

The New Republic: A Voice of Modern Liberalism

Excerpt

Herbert Croly was an odd man to alter the course of history. Born in 1869 in New York, he grew up in a home far removed from the typical, Victorian, middle-class family. His mother, Jane Cunningham Croly, was the first full-time newspaperwoman in the United States. "Jenny June," as she signed her popular syndicated column, wrote about everything from fashion and diets to the seasons and children but probably earned the most notoriety for her ardent feminism. She actively participated in women's clubs to promote self-improvement and sisterhood and led a protest against the exclusion of women from a reception in honor of Charles Dickens' visit to the United States a year before Herbert's birth.

David Goodman Croly spent his career in journalism fighting with editors and bouncing between various New York dailies. Keeping pace with his active wife, he authored one of the premiere sex manuals of the time and started his own radical periodical to save readers' eyes from the strain of black newsprint on white. The failure of his multicolored product to take hold convinced him that "the great, idiotic, stupid reading public" did not care if it went blind. The senior Croly, however, reserved his strongest passions for pious rather than political ideals. He enthusiastically publicized the French philosopher Auguste Comte's teachings and used his own home as a meeting place for converts to the exotic "religion of humanity." After going away to attend Harvard, Herbert regularly received letters from his father admonishing him never to lose faith in the force of the spiritual and divine. Together, the Crolys . . .

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