Henry Demarest Lloyd

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Henry Demarest Lloyd

Henry Demarest Lloyd was born in New York City on May 1, 1847. His father was a poor Dutch Reformed minister, but the relatives with whom the Lloyds lived were very wealthy, and he was raised comfortably and given a good education. He graduated from Columbia College, attended Columbia's law school, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1869. He accepted a position with the Free Trade League that involved editing the Free Trader and arguing against a high protective tariff. He was also active in the Young Men's Municipal Reform Association, which helped take down the notorious Tweed ring from New York City politics. His association with the People's Pictorial Tax-payer, a Liberal Republican organ, plunged him into the anti-Grant movement of 1872, aimed at corruption in politics (1).

In 1873 Lloyd moved to Chicago, where he served in several editorial positions on the Tribune. He married the daughter of a wealthy stockholder in the paper, but estrangement from his father-in-law began when Lloyd showed interest in purchasing his own newspaper (2). However, Lloyd never fulfilled his wish to control his own crusading liberal organ. Instead, he became the leading freelance journalist of his day after writing a denunciation of the Standard Oil monopoly for the Atlantic Monthly in 1881. This became the core of his famous book Wealth against Commonwealth in which he warned us that "Big Business" corrupts liberty and sets national agendas of death and killing for the almighty dollar (3).  Over a hundred years later, we have yet to take note of Lloyd's warning as we drop deeper into an international depression.

In 1885 Lloyd resigned from the Tribune and began his 20-year career as spokesman for the reform programs of the day. He supported insane-asylum reform, the cooperative movement, attempts at organizing a utopian colony in the unsettled West, Jane Addams's Hull House, organized labor and its 8-hour movement, and several celebrated...