Godkin, Edwin Lawrence

Godkin, Edwin Lawrence gŏdˈkĭn [key], 1831–1902, American editor, b. Moyne, Ireland, of English parentage. His idealism found expression in his History of Hungary and the Magyars (1853) and won him the job of correspondent (1853–55) to the London Daily News during the Crimean War. In 1856 he came to the United States and studied law. During the Civil War he traveled in the South, sending letters to the Daily News. In 1865, Godkin established the Nation on stockholders' money but shortly after was compelled to buy the paper to maintain it. In 1881 he became an editor of the New York Evening Post and in 1883 editor in chief, carrying the Nation, by then an influential critical weekly, with him as a weekly in connection with the Post. He was independent politically and attacked the carpetbag regime, corruption under President Grant, free silver, organized labor, and high tariffs. His self-assurance and integrity gave his opinion weight. He was an important spokesman of laissez-faire in economic policy. He wrote Problems of Modern Democracy (1896) and Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy (1898).

See R. Ogden, Life and Letters of Edwin Lawrence Godkin (1907); studies by W. M. Armstrong (1957) and L. H. Rifkin (1959).

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