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
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
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."