Lawrence Dennis

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Lawrence Dennis
Born (1893-12-25)25 December 1893
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
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Education Phillips Exeter Academy
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Diplomat

Lawrence Dennis (25 December 1893 – 20 August 1977) was an American diplomat, consultant and author.

Early life

Dennis was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was of mixed race, but he concealed that until later in life.[1][2] Following a notable career as a child evangelist, he was sent to Phillips Exeter Academy and then to Harvard University.

During World War I, Dennis commanded a company of military police in France. He graduated from Harvard in 1920 and entered the foreign service.

The turning point of his life came when he served in Nicaragua. He resigned from the foreign service in disgust at the US intervention there against Sandino's rebellion. He then became an adviser to the Latin American fund of the Seligman banking trust, but he again made enemies when he wrote a series of exposes of their foreign bond enterprises in The New Republic and The Nation in 1930. The exposés propelled Dennis into a national public intellectual career, publishing his first book at the height of the depression in 1932, Is Capitalism Doomed?. The book submitted that capitalism was and should be on its death knell, but it warned of the grave dangers of a world devoid of its positive legacy.

Fascist supporter

His two later books detailed his sense of the system that was emerging to replace it, which he believed to be fascism. The Coming American Fascism in 1936, detailing the system's substructure, and The Dynamics of War and Revolution in 1940, on the superstructure. In 1941 Life called Dennis "America's No. 1 intellectual Fascist."[3]

Dennis was an editor at The Awakener for some time. Later, he founded his own publication, the Weekly Foreign Letter, and he wrote for Today's Challenge, published by the pro-German American Fellowship Forum of George Sylvester Viereck and Friedrich Auhagen. He tried to join the US Army during World War II,[4] but the Army rejected him after the media ran stories about him.

Sedition trial

In 1944, he was indicted in a group that ranged from genuine progressives to pro-Nazi agitators, in a sedition prosecution under the Smith Act.[5] The case ended in a mistrial after the judge died of a heart attack. Dennis co-authored with Maximilian St. George an account of the trial, which appeared in 1946 as A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944.[6]

Later life

In his later years, Dennis repudiated his views of the 1930s and early 1940s, became a critic of militarism and the Cold War, and he propagated his views through a modest newsletter, The Appeal to Reason, which maintained a prominent circle of readers, including Herbert Hoover, Joseph P. Kennedy, William Appleman Williams, Harry Elmer Barnes, and James J. Martin. His last book, Operational Thinking for Survival, was published in 1969.


  • Is Capitalism Doomed? (Harper & Brothers, 1932)
  • The Coming American Fascism (Harper & Brothers, 1936)
  • The Dynamics of War and Revolution (Harper & Brothers, 1940)
  • A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 (1946)
  • Operational Thinking for Survival (Ralph Myles, 1969)


  1. The fascist who 'passed' for white by Gary Younge in The Guardian, April 4, 2007.
  2. "Boy Evangelist Here". The Washington Post. March 14, 1901. p. 11. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Ism of Appeasement". Life. January 20, 1941. p. 26. Retrieved November 10, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Sees His Duty Done". The New York Times. April 21, 1942. p. 10. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Baxter, David (1985). "The Great Sedition Trial of 1944: A Personal Memoir". The Journal of Historical Review. VI (1): 23–40.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Lawrence Dennis and Maximilian St. George, Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 (National Civil Rights Committee, 1946)

Further reading

  • Justus D. Doenecke, "The Isolationist as Collectivist: Lawrence Dennis and The Coming of World War II" Journal of Libertarian Studies 3 (Summer 1979): 191–208.
  • Justus D. Doenecke, "Lawrence Dennis: Revisionist of the Cold War," Wisconsin Magazine of History 55 (Summer 1972): 275–86.
  • Justus D. Doenecke, "Weekly Foreign Letter, 1938–1942," in Ronald Lora and William Henry Longton, eds. The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America (1999, 287–294.
  • Justus D. Doenecke, "Appeal to Reason, 1946–1972" in ibid., 295–303.
  • Horne, Gerald (2006). The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States. New York: New York University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Radosh, Ronald (1975). Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism. New York: Simon & Schuster.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stimely, Keith (2001). "Lawrence Dennis and a Frontier Thesis for American Capitalism" (PDF). The Occidental Quarterly. I (1): 47–75.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links