The Nation

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The Nation
The Nation magazine cover - 18-25 June 2018.jpg
The Nation, cover dated June 18–25, 2018
Editor D. D. Guttenplan [1]
Former editors
CategoriesPolitically progressive
Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel
Total circulation
145,624 [2]
First issueJuly 6, 1865;156 years ago (1865-07-06)
CompanyThe Nation Company, L.P.
CountryUnited States
Based in New York City, US
ISSN 0027-8378

The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States, covering progressive [3] political and cultural news, opinion, and analysis. It was founded on July 6, 1865, as a successor to William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator , [4] an abolitionist newspaper that closed in 1865, after ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Now that the specific, urgent problem of slavery had been ended (The Liberator), one could proceed to a broader topic, The Nation. An important collaborator of the new magazine was its Literary Editor Wendell Phillips Garrison, son of William. He had at his disposal his father's vast network of contacts.


The Nation is published by its namesake owner, The Nation Company, L.P., at 520 8th Ave New York, NY 10018. [5]

The Nation has news bureaus in Washington, D.C., London, and South Africa, with departments covering architecture, art, corporations, defense, environment, films, legal affairs, music, peace and disarmament, poetry, and the United Nations. Circulation peaked at 187,000 in 2006 but by 2010 had dropped to 145,000 in print, although digital subscriptions had risen to over 15,000. [6]


Founding and journalistic roots

The Nation was established in July 1865 at 130 Nassau Street ("Newspaper Row") in Manhattan. Its founding coincided with the closure of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator , also in 1865, after slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; a group of abolitionists, led by the architect Frederick Law Olmsted, desired to found a new weekly political magazine. Edwin Lawrence Godkin, who had been considering starting such a magazine for some time, agreed and so became the first editor of The Nation. [7] Wendell Phillips Garrison, son of The Liberator's editor/publisher William Lloyd Garrison, was Literary Editor from 1865 to 1906.

Its founding publisher was Joseph H. Richards; the editor was Godkin, an immigrant from Ireland who had formerly worked as a correspondent of the London Daily News and The New York Times . [8] [9] Godkin sought to establish what one sympathetic commentator later characterized as "an organ of opinion characterized in its utterance by breadth and deliberation, an organ which should identify itself with causes, and which should give its support to parties primarily as representative of these causes." [10]

In its "founding prospectus" the magazine wrote that the publication would have "seven main objects" with the first being "discussion of the topics of the day, and, above all, of legal, economical, and constitutional questions, with greater accuracy and moderation than are now to be found in the daily press." [11] The Nation pledged to "not be the organ of any party, sect or body" but rather to "make an earnest effort to bring to discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred." [11]

In the first year of publication, one of the magazine's regular features was The South As It Is, dispatches from a tour of the war-torn region by John Richard Dennett, a recent Harvard graduate and a veteran of the Port Royal Experiment. Dennett interviewed Confederate veterans, freed slaves, agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, and ordinary people he met by the side of the road. The articles, since collected as a book, have been praised by The New York Times as "examples of masterly journalism."[ citation needed ]

Among the causes supported by the publication in its earliest days was civil service reform—moving the basis of government employment from a political patronage system to a professional bureaucracy based upon meritocracy. [10] The Nation also was preoccupied with the reestablishment of a sound national currency in the years after the American Civil War, arguing that a stable currency was necessary to restore the economic stability of the nation. [12] Closely related to this was the publication's advocacy of the elimination of protective tariffs in favor of lower prices of consumer goods associated with a free trade system. [13]

The Evening Post and The Nation, 210 Broadway, Manhattan, New York (King1893NYC) pg617 THE EVENING POST AND THE NATION, EVENING POST BUILDING.jpg
The Evening Post and The Nation, 210 Broadway, Manhattan, New York

The magazine would stay at Newspaper Row for 90 years.

From 1880s literary supplement to 1930s New Deal booster

In 1881, newspaperman-turned-railroad-baron Henry Villard acquired The Nation and converted it into a weekly literary supplement for his daily newspaper the New York Evening Post. The offices of the magazine were moved to the Evening Post's headquarters at 210 Broadway. The New York Evening Post would later morph into a tabloid, the New York Post , a left-leaning afternoon tabloid, under owner Dorothy Schiff from 1939 to 1976. Since then, it has been a conservative tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, while The Nation became known for its left-wing ideology. [14]

In 1900, Henry Villard's son, Oswald Garrison Villard, inherited the magazine and the Evening Post, and sold off the latter in 1918. Thereafter, he remade The Nation into a current affairs publication and gave it an anti-classical liberal orientation. Oswald Villard welcomed the New Deal and supported the nationalization of industries – thus reversing the meaning of "liberalism" as the founders of The Nation would have understood the term, from a belief in a smaller and more restricted government to a belief in a larger and less restricted government. [15] [16] Villard sold the magazine in 1935. Maurice Wertheim, the new owner, sold it in 1937 to Freda Kirchwey, who served as editor from 1933 to 1955.

Almost every editor of The Nation from Villard's time to the 1970s was looked at for "subversive" activities and ties. [17] When Albert Jay Nock, not long afterward, published a column criticizing Samuel Gompers and trade unions for being complicit in the war machine of the First World War, The Nation was briefly suspended from the US mail. [18]

During the 1930s, The Nation showed enthusiastic support for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. [9]

World War II and early Cold War

The magazine's financial problems in the early 1940s prompted Kirchwey to sell her individual ownership of the magazine in 1943, creating a nonprofit organization, Nation Associates, out of the money generated from a recruiting drive of sponsors. This organization was also responsible for academic affairs, including conducting research and organizing conferences, that had been a part of the early history of the magazine. Nation Associates became responsible for the operation and publication of the magazine on a nonprofit basis, with Kirchwey as both president of Nation Associates and editor of The Nation. [19]

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, The Nation repeatedly called on the United States to enter World War II to resist fascism, and after the US entered the war, the publication supported the American war effort. [20] It also supported the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. [20]

During the late 1940s and again in the early 1950s, a merger was discussed by Kirchwey (later Carey McWilliams) and The New Republic 's Michael Straight. The two magazines were very similar at that time — both were left of center, The Nation further left than TNR; both had circulations around 100,000, although TNR's was slightly higher; and both lost money. It was thought that the two magazines could unite and make the most powerful journal of opinion. The new publication would have been called The Nation and New Republic. Kirchwey was the most hesitant, and both attempts to merge failed. The two magazines would later take very different paths: The Nation achieved a higher circulation, and The New Republic moved more to the right. [21]

In the 1950s, The Nation was attacked as "pro-communist" because of its advocacy of detente with the Soviet Union, [22] and its criticism of McCarthyism. [9] One of the magazine's writers, Louis Fischer, resigned from the magazine afterwards, claiming The Nation's foreign coverage was too pro-Soviet. [22] Despite this, Diana Trilling pointed out that Kirchwey did allow anti-Soviet writers, such as herself, to contribute material critical of Russia to the magazine's arts section. [23]

During McCarthyism (the Second Red Scare), The Nation was banned from several school libraries in New York City and Newark, [24] and a Bartlesville, Oklahoma librarian, Ruth Brown, was fired from her job in 1950, after a citizens committee complained she had given shelf space to The Nation. [24]

In 1955, George C. Kirstein replaced Kirchway as magazine owner. [25] James J. Storrow Jr. bought the magazine from Kirstein in 1965. [26]

During the 1950s, Paul Blanshard, a former Associate Editor, served as The Nation's special correspondent in Uzbekistan. His most famous writing was a series of articles attacking the Catholic Church in America as a dangerous, powerful, and undemocratic institution.

1970s to 2020

In June 1979, The Nation's publisher Hamilton Fish and then-editor Victor Navasky moved the weekly to 72 Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan. In June 1998, the periodical had to move to make way for condominium development. The offices of The Nation are now at 33 Irving Place, in Manhattan's Gramercy neighborhood.

In 1977, a group organized by Hamilton Fish V bought the magazine from the Storrow family. [27] In 1985, he sold it to Arthur L. Carter, who had made a fortune as a founding partner of Carter, Berlind, Potoma & Weill.

In 1991, The Nation sued the Department of Defense for restricting free speech by limiting Gulf War coverage to press pools. However, the issue was found moot in Nation Magazine v. United States Department of Defense , because the war ended before the case was heard.

In 1995, Victor Navasky bought the magazine and, in 1996, became publisher. In 1995, Katrina vanden Heuvel succeeded Navasky as editor of The Nation, [28] and in 2005, as publisher.

In 2015, The Nation celebrated its 150th anniversary with a documentary film by Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple; a 268-page special issue [29] featuring pieces of art and writing from the archives, and new essays by frequent contributors like Eric Foner, Noam Chomsky, E. L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, Rebecca Solnit, and Vivian Gornick; a book-length history of the magazine by D. D. Guttenplan (which The Times Literary Supplement called "an affectionate and celebratory affair"); events across the country; and a relaunched website. In a tribute to The Nation, published in the anniversary issue, President Barack Obama said:

In an era of instant, 140-character news cycles and reflexive toeing of the party line, it's incredible to think of the 150-year history of The Nation. It's more than a magazine — it's a crucible of ideas forged in the time of Emancipation, tempered through depression and war and the civil-rights movement, and honed as sharp and relevant as ever in an age of breathtaking technological and economic change. Through it all, The Nation has exhibited that great American tradition of expanding our moral imaginations, stoking vigorous dissent, and simply taking the time to think through our country's challenges anew. If I agreed with everything written in any given issue of the magazine, it would only mean that you are not doing your jobs. But whether it is your commitment to a fair shot for working Americans, or equality for all Americans, it is heartening to know that an American institution dedicated to provocative, reasoned debate and reflection in pursuit of those ideals can continue to thrive.

On January 14, 2016, The Nation endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for President. In their reasoning, the editors of The Nation professed that "Bernie Sanders and his supporters are bending the arc of history toward justice. Theirs is an insurgency, a possibility, and a dream that we proudly endorse." [30]

On June 15, 2019, Heuvel stepped down as editor; D. D. Guttenplan, the editor-at-large, took her place. [31]

On March 2, 2020, The Nation again endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for President. In their reasoning, the editors of The Nation professed: "As we find ourselves on a hinge of history—a generation summoned to the task of redeeming our democracy and restoring our republic—no one ever has to wonder what Bernie Sanders stands for." [32]


Print ad pages declined by 5% from 2009 to 2010, while digital advertising rose 32.8% from 2009 to 2010. [33] Advertising accounts for 10% of total revenue for the magazine, while circulation totals 60%. [6] The Nation has lost money in all but three or four years of operation and is sustained in part by a group of more than 30,000 donors called Nation Associates, who donate funds to the periodical above and beyond their annual subscription fees. This program accounts for 30% of the total revenue for the magazine. An annual cruise also generates $200,000 for the magazine. [6] Since late 2012, the Nation Associates program has been called Nation Builders. [34]


Since its creation, The Nation has published significant works of American poetry, [35] [36] including works by Hart Crane, Eli Siegel, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich, [35] as well as W.S. Merwin, Pablo Neruda, Denise Levertov, and Derek Walcott. [36]

In 2018, the magazine published a poem entitled "How-To" by Anders Carlson-Wee which was written in the voice of a homeless man and used black vernacular. This led to criticism from writers such as Roxane Gay because Carlson-Wee is white. The Nation's two poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, issued an apology for publishing the poem, the first such action ever taken by the magazine. [35] The apology itself became an object of criticism also. Poet and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt who called the apology "craven" and likened it to a letter written from "a reeducation camp". [35] Grace Schulman, The Nation's poetry editor from 1971 to 2006, wrote that the apology represented a disturbing departure from the magazine's traditionally broad conception of artistic freedom. [36]


D. D. Guttenplan replaced publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel as Editor on June 15, 2019. [31] Former editors include Victor Saul Navasky, Carey McWilliams, and Freda Kirchwey.

Regular columns

The magazine runs a number of regular columns:

Regular columns in the past have included:

See also

Related Research Articles

William Lloyd Garrison American journalist and abolitionist

William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent American Christian, abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, and social reformer. He is best known for his widely-read anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, which he founded in 1831 and published in Boston until slavery in the United States was abolished by Constitutional amendment in 1865. Garrison promoted "no-governmentism" and rejected the inherent validity of the American government on the basis that its engagement in war, imperialism, and slavery made the government corrupt and tyrannical; he initially opposed violence as a principle and advocated for Christian nonresistance against evil -- though at the outbreak of the civil war, he abandoned his previous principles and embraced the armed struggle and the Lincoln administration. He was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and promoted immediate and uncompensated, as opposed to gradual and compensated, emancipation of slaves in the United States.

The source of Garrison's power was the Bible. From his earliest days, he read the Bible constantly and prayed constantly. It was with this fire that he started his conflagration. ...So also, a prejudice against all fixed forms of worship, against the authority of human government, against every binding of the spirit into conformity with human law, — all these things grew up in Garrison's mind out of his Bible reading.

Henry Villard Journalist, financier

Henry Villard was an American journalist and financier who was an early president of the Northern Pacific Railway.

<i>Columbia Journalism Review</i> American magazine for professional journalists

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I. F. Stone American investigative journalist, writer, and author

Isidor Feinstein "I. F." Stone was an American investigative journalist, writer, and author.

Oswald Garrison Villard

Oswald Garrison Villard was an American journalist and editor of the New York Evening Post. He was a civil rights activist, and along with his mother, Fanny Villard, a founding member of the NAACP. In 1913 he wrote to President Woodrow Wilson to protest his administration's racial segregation of federal offices in Washington, DC, a change from previous integrated conditions. He was a leading liberal spokesman in the 1920s and 1930s, then turned to the right.

Katrina vanden Heuvel American writer, editor, publisher, activist

Katrina vanden Heuvel is an American editor and publisher. She is the publisher, part-owner, and former editor of the progressive magazine The Nation. She was the magazine's editor from 1995 until 15 June 2019, when she was succeeded by D. D. Guttenplan. She is often a commentator on political television programs. Vanden Heuvel is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a US nonprofit think tank. She is a recipient of the Norman Mailer Prize.

Victor Saul Navasky is an American journalist, editor and academic. He is publisher emeritus of The Nation and George T. Delacorte Professor Emeritus of Professional Practice in Magazine Journalism at Columbia University. He was editor of The Nation from 1978 until 1995 and its publisher and editorial director from 1995 to 2005. Navasky's book Naming Names (1980) is considered a definitive take on the Hollywood blacklist. For it he won a 1982 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Edwin Lawrence Godkin

Edwin Lawrence Godkin was an Irish-born American journalist and newspaper editor. He founded The Nation and was the editor-in-chief of the New York Evening Post from 1883 to 1899.

<i>Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems</i>

Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems is a book of poems written by Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism. It was one of 13 finalists in the poetry category of the National Book Award in 1958, the year its author was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Mary Frederika "Freda" Kirchwey was an American journalist, editor, and publisher strongly committed throughout her career to liberal causes. From 1933 to 1955, she was Editor of The Nation magazine.

George W. Kirchwey

George Washington Kirchwey was an American lawyer, politician, journalist and legal scholar. He was one of the co-founders of the New York Peace Society in 1906 and the Warden of Sing Sing State Prison from 1915 to 1916. He was president of the American Peace Society in 1917.

Wendell Phillips Garrison

Wendell Phillips Garrison (1840–1907) was an American editor and author.

William vanden Heuvel American attorney, businessman and diplomat

William Jacobus vanden Heuvel was an American attorney, businessman, author and diplomat. He was known for advising Robert F. Kennedy during the latter's campaigns for Senate in 1964 and President in 1968. Vanden Heuvel established the Roosevelt Institute in 1987. He was the father of longtime editor of The Nation magazine Katrina vanden Heuvel and Wendy vanden Heuvel, children from his marriage to author-editor Jean Stein, the daughter of MCA founder Jules C. Stein.

See Hamilton Fish (disambiguation) for others with the same name

Fanny Garrison Villard

Helen Frances “Fanny” Garrison Villard was an American women's suffrage campaigner, pacifist and a co-founder of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She was the daughter of prominent publisher and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and the wife of railroad tycoon Henry Villard.

Horace White (writer) American journalist (1834–1916)

Horace White was a United States journalist and financial expert, noted for his connection with the Chicago Tribune, the New York Evening Post, and The Nation.

New Labor Forum is a national labor journal of cutting-edge debate, analysis and new ideas. New Labor Forum is published by the CUNY Joseph S. Murphy Institute and SAGE Press, three times a year, in January, May, and September. Founded in 1997, the journal provides a place for labor and its allies to consider vital research, debate strategy, and test new ideas.

D. D. Guttenplan

Don David Guttenplan is editor of The Nation. A former London correspondent of the magazine, he wrote The Holocaust on Trial, a book about the Irving v Penguin Books and Lipstadt libel case while based in the UK's capital.

The National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) is the largest conference devoted to media, technology and democracy in the United States. Sponsored and presented by the media reform organization Free Press, the conference brings together activists; students; policymakers; journalists; scholars; educators; media makers and other concerned citizens who are working for better media, to share ideas and strategies, develop new skills, network and built momentum for the media reform movement.


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Further reading