Dellinger, David (T.) 1915-2004

views updated

DELLINGER, David (T.) 1915-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born August 22, 1915, in Wakefield, MA; died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, May 25, 2004, in Montpelier, VT. Activist, editor, and author. Dellinger spent a lifetime protesting war and the American capitalist system, but he is best remembered as one of the Chicago Seven, who were tried and convicted for organizing protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. A Yale University graduate, his first strong convictions against violence came after a certain Yale football game. Yale lost, and Dellinger joined in on the ensuing riot, injuring one of the other students. Immediately, he felt sorry for his act and vowed never to commit such violence again. After graduating with an economics degree in 1936, he studied at Oxford University for a year on a scholarship. Returning to America, he enrolled at Union Theological Seminary, intending to become a minister. As World War II approached in 1940, he refused to register for the draft and was expelled from the seminary and subsequently spent a year in prison for draft evasion. After being released he refused to report for a physical exam that was part of the draft process. Again, he was sent to prison, this time for two years. When World War II ended and Dellinger was released again, he founded Liberation magazine, a periodical that espoused pacifism and government resistance; he was also a partner at Libertarian Press from 1946 to 1967. Dellinger, who served as editor and publisher of his magazine until it went out of business in 1975, had by this time formed strong opinions against war and American capitalism, which he blamed for many of his country's social ills. He repeatedly protested the Vietnam War, even establishing connections with the North Vietnamese government. In 1966 and 1967 he traveled to China and North Vietnam, and he was also later instrumental in obtaining the release of three American prisoners of war. The riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention put Dellinger in the limelight, along with other war protesters that included Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Dellinger, who was chair of the National Mobilization Commission to End the War in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970, stood apart from the other defendants in that he was not part of the hippie counterculture; nevertheless, he was convicted of helping to incite the riot and was sentenced to five years in prison, the harshest sentence given to any of the defendants. After serving two years, however, an appeals court judge found the sentence prejudicial, and Dellinger was released. Dellinger continued to protest the war, making more trips to Asia in 1972 and even serving as an advisor to the North Vietnamese government during the Paris negotiations that ended the war. The remainder of Dellinger's years were spent in Peacham, Vermont, where he earned a living as a writer and adult education teacher at Vermont College. He released several books in his lifetime, including Revolutionary Nonviolence:Essays by Dave Dellinger (1970), Vietnam Revisited: From Covert Action to Invasion to Reconstruction (1986), and From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (1993).



Chicago Tribune, May 27, 2004, section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2004, p. B12.

New York Times, May 27, 2004, p. A28.

Times (London, England), June 11, 2004, p. 39.

Washington Post, May 27, 2004, p. B7.