SPECIAL - Buy 4 Tees get 1 FREE! Use code BUY4 at checkout.
Cart 0

Whiskey & Wry — H.L. Mencken

27. Monkeying around with H.L. Mencken

On February 3, 1931, the Arkansas legislature passed a motion to hold a group prayer to save the soul of the journalist H.L. Mencken. The proximate cause were three columns by Mencken in the Baltimore Evening Sun in January. Describing Arkansas as “perhaps the most shiftless and backward state in the whole galaxy,” he dubbed it “the apex of moronia.” Mencken shrugged off the prayer session, saying, “I didn’t make Arkansas the butt of ridicule. God did.”Mencken was especially harsh on the religious southeastern and south-central states, coining the phrase “Bible Belt” to describe them. There, aggressive evangelicals often used government to...

Read more →

24. The Time Mencken Hoaxed Himself, Part II

Note: For Part I of this article, click here.  “Melancholy Reflections” appeared in the Chicago Tribune on May 23, 1926. It was not just a confession but also Mencken's cry for the public to use critical reasoning. The joke had soured. H.L. Mencken was receiving letters of corroboration from some readers and requests for more details from others. And, because Fillmore’s presidency was uneventful, some calendars now marked his birthday with the only interesting tidbit they had: Fillmore introduced the bathtub into the White House. In “Melancholy Reflections,” Mencken speculated on the probable response to his confession. Cincinnati, where the faux...

Read more →

23. The Time Mencken Hoaxed Himself, Part I

"Democracy is the theory that ... the common people knowwhat they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." – H.L. Mencken   The iconoclastic journalist H.L. Mencken was notoriously scornful of uneducated and uncultured people whom he called the “booboisie.” In 1917, the publishing world boycotted his articles on World War I because Mencken was of German descent, critical of the war and held pro-German views based on the nation's culture, not its politics. Forced into non-political writing, he decided to give it to the public “good and hard.” On December 28, 1917, “A Neglected Anniversary” appeared in...

Read more →

6. H.L. Mencken on Americana, agnosticism, and propaganda

A masterful wordsmith and literary critic, Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken (1880-1956) was widely regarded in his time as one of America's most talented writers. In 2002, the Atlantic's Jonathan Yardley called Mencken "the greatest of all American journalists," adding:  "No matter where his writing appeared, it was quoted widely, his pungently outspoken ideas debated hotly. Nobody else could make so many people so angry, or make so many others laugh so hard." In 1948, Donald Howe Kirkley Sr., a reporter and editor with the Baltimore Sun, interviewed a cigar-chomping Mencken at the behest of the Library of Congress: www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/1948-h-l-mencken-interview/  The only known recording of H.L. Mencken's voice, this...

Read more →