Godkin, Edwin Lawrence

Godkin, Edwin Lawrence

(gŏd`kĭn), 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-fairelaissez-faire
[Fr.,=leave alone], in economics and politics, doctrine that an economic system functions best when there is no interference by government. It is based on the belief that the natural economic order tends, when undisturbed by artificial stimulus or regulation, to
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 in economic policy. He wrote Problems of Modern Democracy (1896) and Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy (1898).

Bibliography

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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Godkin, Edwin Lawrence

(1831–1902) editor; born in County Wicklow, Ireland. Graduating from Queen's College, Belfast, he became a journalist and worked as a war correspondent in the Crimea for the London Daily News (1853–55). He emigrated to New York in 1856 and wrote for the News and other publications. In 1865 he became editor of The Nation, shaping it into a crusading journal of reformist ideas. He sold this small, ailing, high-quality magazine in 1881 to the New York Evening Post, of which it became a weekly supplement. Two years later, he became editor of the Evening Post, exercising great influence through his powerful, widely quoted editorials; he retired in 1900. A liberal not allied with any party, Godkin earned respect for his broad knowledge, independent-mindedness, and moral purpose, and for his incisive style.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.