David Dellinger: The Life and Times of a Nonviolent Revolutionary

By Andrew E. Hunt | Go to book overview

11
Staying the Course

Never cancel a rally or meeting. That’s the golden rule of the move-
ment. If even one person has troubled to come, carry on as if there are
1000. Every individual counts and bearing witness counts.

David Dellinger

NO OTHER DECADE transformed David Dellinger’s life as significantly as the 1960s. When it began, he still lived in the shadow of A. J. Muste, working as one of several editors of an increasingly influential but still marginal leftist magazine, and he was barely known outside radical pacifist circles. But by the close of the decade, he had become a leader in one of the largest mass protest movements in American history, a defendant in the famous—some say infamous—Chicago conspiracy trial, and a widely demanded speaker on college campuses across the nation. Although the era that Dellinger came to know as the “sixties” did not necessarily begin in 1960 or end in 1970, a precipitous decline of the sort of activism that he championed was evident by the early 1970s. So embedded in antiwar work and so optimistic was Dellinger that he hardly noticed it until the movement was nearly dormant by the mid-1970s. At the same time, Dellinger’s health and marriage took a turn for the worse.

Reasons to be discouraged abounded in mid-1970s: Ultraleft factions were self-destructing. Old comrades were scaling back their commitments or dropping out of the movement altogether. Federal officials were continuing their crackdowns. And a broad segment of the American public—weary after years of catastrophic warfare in Southeast Asia and upheaval at home—found solace in President Nixon’s decision to withdraw American troops from Vietnam and pursue “peace with honor.” The public’s hunger for order and calm persisted even as Nixon’s presidency collapsed under the crippling weight of the Water-

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David Dellinger: The Life and Times of a Nonviolent Revolutionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Wakefield 7
  • 2 - The Education of a Pacifist 20
  • 3 - The Hole 37
  • 4 - "Conchies" 62
  • 5 - A Rebel in Cold-War America 84
  • 6 - Winds of Change 108
  • 7 - The Birth of a Movement 124
  • 8 - Gandhi and Guerrilla 148
  • 9 - The Road to Chicago 172
  • 10 - Disrupting the Holy Mysteries 213
  • 11 - Staying the Course 237
  • 12 - Making Peace in Vermont 266
  • 13 - Farewell, Tough Guy 281
  • Notes 291
  • Bibliography 333
  • Index 343
  • About the Author 356
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