A Remembrance of Louis F. Post

Frederic C. Leubuscher

[An address delivered to assemblage of about 500 people who attended a Memorial Meeting in honor of the late Louis F. Post, held under the auspices of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation on the evening of April 10 at the Community Church, Park Avenue and 34th Street, New York. Reprinted from Land and Freedom, May-June 1928]

SO IMBUED was Spinoza with the idea of the divine that he was called "God Intoxicated." To paraphrase this, we can call Louis F. Post "Freedom Intoxicated." Throughout his long life, in his public utterances and actions and in his books, there is insistence on individualism, on personal liberty. His attitude in the deportation cases, when he braved war-maddened public hysteria to uphold the rights of man, while the most sensational, was only typical.

Almost forty-four years ago, while I was a clerk in a law office, my employers gave me a vacation. At that early age my mental relaxation from the study of musty law books consisted in devouring novels the more sensational the better. So on my trip to the country I picked up at a book stall a paper covered novel entitled "Progress and Poverty." Imagine my disgust on finding it to be a treatise on political economy. But as I had nothing else with which to while away the tedium of a journey, I commenced to read it. I was soon enthralled by the beautiful style of the opening chapter; and before the two weeks of my vacation were over, I had finished reading "Progress and Poverty." Not only that, but I had become a convert to what was afterwards called the Single Tax Philosophy. For two years I did nothing to further the cause, except to call the attention of friends to the remarkable book.

In 1886 the newspapers were full of the candidacy of Henry George for the mayoralty of New York City. This emboldened me to go to his campaign headquarters in the old Colonnade Hotel, since razed. At last I was to meet the man pictured by my youthful enthusiasm as the greatest philosopher of all times. I might add that now, when my hair is white, I have not revised my early judgment. As I opened the door, I was greeted by a young, short, rather squatty man, whose Jovian head was covered by a mass of bushy hair. Thus I first met Louis F. Post. After introducing me to the candidate, who spoke to me as though I were an equal, while I felt like an urchin in the presence of the awe-inspiring teacher, Post took me aside to learn what I could do to aid the campaign. Discovering I had some knowledge of stenography, which was unusual in those days, he set me to work reporting Henry George's speeches.

After this most sensational campaign was over, Post suggested that he and I write a history of it. In the published book " An Account of the George-Hewitt Campaign of 1886," he kindly coupled my name with his as co-author, although my contribution to the work was largely that of amenuensis. This was also typical never himself seeking the limelight, but always dragging a friend into it.

Post had the art of the campaign orator of injecting stories in his speech, so that his audience never tired even when listening to speeches that required the closest attention. Just imagine keeping an audience interested throughout an hour's address on political economy, mingling laughter with applause. In the '80s one of the leading radicals in New York was John Swinton, who published John Swinton's Paper. Swinton's panacea for all economic ills, his cure-all, was the greenback. He and Post had a joint debate on the comparative merits of the land and the money questions. Finally Swinton said, "If I could get all the money of the world you can have all the land." Quick as a flash Post replied, "Agreed; you have all the money and I have all the land now get off my earth."

Hard work never kills, for if it did, Post would never have lived to be seventy-eight. During the '86 campaign, which lasted a month, I doubt if he averaged four hours' sleep out of the twenty-four. At headquarters during the day, speaking at night until eleven, and then taking up his duties as editor of the Leader until 2 A.M. Every New York newspaper was opposing Henry George, so Post started a daily called the Leader which lasted a year until the Socialists captured it, when it soon died.

This week there will be many memorial meetings in honor of a man who died over a century ago. Thomas Jefferson's birthday comes on Friday. He was the great American exponent of democracy (with a small d). Post followed in his foot-steps. Before many years, the American people will have learned that were it not for Post and men like him who, despite obloquy, repelled assaults on the very fundamentals of Jeffersonian democracy, they might now be ruled by a Mussolini.

At the conclusion of this address, Frank I. Morrison, secretary of the American Federation of Labor, paid a high tribute to Mr. Post and dwelt upon his life-long interest in the labor movement. A notable statement of Mr. Morrison's was: " We can build monuments to the memory of Louis F. Post and other pleaders for social justice by entering whole-heartedly into that struggle."