The Nation

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The Nation
The Nation magazine cover May 3 2010.png
The Nation, cover dated May 3, 2010
Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel
Former editors Victor Navasky
Norman Thomas (associate editor)
Carey McWilliams
Freda Kirchwey
Categories Political, Progressive, Social liberalism
Frequency Weekly
Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel
Total circulation
First issue July 6, 1865
Company The Nation Company, L.P.
Country United States
Based in New York City
ISSN 0027-8378

The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States, a successor to William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator.[2] The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left."[3] Founded on July 6, 1865, it is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.[4] It is associated with The Nation Institute.

The Nation has bureaus in Washington, D.C., London, and [CITY NEEDED] 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 back to 145,000 in print, though digital subscriptions had risen to over 15,000.[5] Print ad pages declined by 5% from 2009 to 2010, while digital advertising rose 32.8% from 2009–10.[6] Advertising accounts for 10% of total revenue for the magazine, while circulation totals 60%.[5] 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.[5] Since late 2012, the Nation Associates program has been called Nation Builders.[7]


The Nation was established in July 1865 on "Newspaper Row" at 130 Nassau Street in Manhattan. The publisher was Joseph H. Richards, and the editor was Edwin Lawrence Godkin, an immigrant from Ireland who had formerly worked as a correspondent of the London Daily News.[8] Godkin, a classical liberal, 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."[9]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

Wendell Phillips Garrison, son of William Lloyd Garrison, was Literary Editor from 1865 to 1906. The magazine would stay at Newspaper Row for 90 years.

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 was a left-leaning afternoon tabloid under owner Dorothy Schiff from 1939 to 1976 and, since then, has been a conservative tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, while The Nation became known for its markedly leftist politics.

In 1900, Henry Villard's son, Oswald Garrison Villard, inherited the magazine and the Evening Post, selling 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. Villard's takeover prompted the FBI to monitor the magazine for roughly 50 years. The FBI had a file on Villard from 1915. Villard sold the magazine in 1935. It became a nonprofit in 1943.

Almost every editor of The Nation from Villard's time to the 1970s was looked at for "subversive" activities and ties.[12] When Albert Jay Nock, not long later, 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 U.S. mail.[13]

During the late 1940s and again in the early 1950s, a merger was discussed by The Nation's Freda 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, TNR had a slightly higher circulation; and both lost money—and 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, with The Nation having a higher circulation and The New Republic moving more to the right.[14]

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 Roman Catholic Church in America as a dangerous, powerful, and undemocratic institution.

In June 1979, new Nation publisher Hamilton Fish and then-editor Victor Navasky moved the weekly to 72 Fifth Avenue. 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 the Gramercy neighborhood.

In 1977, Hamilton Fish V bought the magazine and, in 1985, sold it to Arthur L. Carter, who had made a fortune as a founding partner of Carter, Berlind, Potoma & Weill.

In 1995, Victor Navasky bought the magazine and, in 1996, became publisher.

In 2001, 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.

As of 2010 Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor and publisher of The Nation.[5]

Nation Associates and the creation of Israel[edit]

The magazine's financial problems in early 1940s prompted Kirchwey to sell her individual ownership of the magazine in 1943, creating a nonprofit organization, Nation Associates, formed out of the money generated from a recruiting drive of sponsors. This organization was also responsible for academic responsibilities, 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 magazine.[15]

During the period 1945–1948, Nation Associates under the leadership of Frida Kirchwey was one of the leading US groups campaigning for the creation of the state of Israel.[16] Together with Nation Associates director Lillie Schultz, the former chief administrator of the American Jewish Congress who had joined The Nation in 1944, she campaigned for the Zionist cause in coordination with the Jewish Agency.[16][17][18] They pressured the United Nations over the composition of the Special Committee on Palestine.[16] They lobbied all UN members to promote a UN vote to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, without a corresponding Arab state.[16]

One of their main achievements was the exposure of war-time collaboration between several Palestinian leaders and Nazi Germany, presented to all UN members as a booklet The Arab Higher Committee, Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes.[16] This pamphlet carried the names of an Advisory Council that included US Congresspersons and a Senator (e.g. Helen Gahagan Douglas, Thomas H. Eliot, Joseph F. Guffey) attorneys and civil rights leaders (e.g. Thurman Arnold, Roger Nash Baldwin, Walter White), investigative journalists (e.g. Jay Allen), authors (e.g. Thomas Mann, Erskine Caldwell, Eugene O'Neill, Lillian Hellman, Lewis Gannett, Reinhold Niebuhr, John P. Lewis), and others.[19]

Kirchwey claimed credit for pressuring the Republic of China to abstain when the UN voted to partition Palestine in November 1947, as well as helping to influence the favorable votes of Yugoslavia, Haiti and Liberia.[16]

The pro-Zionist efforts of Nation Associates were supported by a secret grant of $50,000 from the American section of the Jewish Agency.[20] After Israel declared independence in May 1948, the Israeli government thanked Kirchwey for "having a good and honorable share of our success".[16]

Advertising policy[edit]

In 2004 the Anti-Defamation League criticized the journal for allowing advertisements from the Institute for Historical Review, which promotes Holocaust denial; The Nation vowed to not let it happen again.[21]

The appearance in The Nation of advertisements from the organization Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME) was criticized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In response, The Nation stated: "From our point of view, [the ad] purveys one of the most destructive myths of Israel‘s right wing, namely, that Palestinians have no legitimate national rights ... We run it because The Nation‘s ad policy starts with the presumption that "we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to those of the editors" .... Ads that present a political point of view are considered to fall under our editorial commitment to freedom of speech and, perforce, we grant them the same latitude we claim for our own views. But we do reserve the right to denounce the content of such ads".[22]

Notable contributors[edit]

The publisher and editor is Katrina vanden Heuvel. Former editors include Victor Navasky, Norman Thomas (associate editor), Carey McWilliams, and Freda Kirchwey.

Notable contributors have included Noam Chomsky, Albert Einstein, Albert Jay Nock, Franz Boas, Patrick Buchanan,[23] Martin Luther King, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Barbara Garson, H. L. Mencken, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Arthur Danto, Christopher Hitchens, Hunter S. Thompson, Langston Hughes, Ralph Nader, James Baldwin, Kai Bird, Clement Greenberg, Tom Hayden, Daniel Singer, I. F. Stone, Studs Terkel, Leon Trotsky, George Orwell, Henry Miller, Franklin D. Roosevelt, James K. Galbraith, John Steinbeck, Barbara Tuchman, T. S. Eliot, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Frost, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hannah Arendt, Ezra Pound, Henry James, Charles Sanders Peirce,[24] Jean-Paul Sartre, John Maynard Keynes,[25] Naomi Klein, Alexander Cockburn, Tariq Ali, Michael Naumann, Stuart Chase, Willard R. Espy, and John Beecher.

Regular columns[edit]

The magazine runs a number of regular columns.

Regular columns in the past have included:

Editorial board[edit]

In 2008, The Nation editorial board was composed of Deepak Bhargava, Norman Birnbaum, Barbara Ehrenreich, Richard A. Falk, Frances FitzGerald, Eric Foner, Philip Green, Lani Guinier, Tom Hayden, Randall Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Elinor Langer, Deborah Meier, Toni Morrison, Victor Navasky, Pedro Antonio Noguera, Richard Parker, Michael Pertschuk, Elizabeth Pochoda, Marcus G. Raskin, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, David Weir, and Roger Wilkins.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. June 30, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ The Anti-Slavery Reporter, August 1, 1865, p 187
  3. ^ Publisher's description on page about The Nation. Retrieved June 27, 2006.
  4. ^ "About and Contact." The Nation. Retrieved on September 6, 2011. "Mailing Address: 33 Irving Place New York, New York 10003"
  5. ^ a b c d "Bad News for Liberals May be Good News for a Liberal Magazine", by Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, November 8, 2010
  6. ^ Steve Cohn. "min Correction: The Nation Only Down Slightly in Print Ad Sales, Up in Web". MinOnline. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  7. ^ Katrina vanden Heuvel (28 Dec 2012). "Introducing The Nation Builders". The Nation. 
  8. ^ John Bassett Moore, "Proceedings at the Semi-Centennial Dinner: The Biltmore, April 19, 1917." The Nation, vol. 104, no. 2704 (April 27, 1917), section 2, pp. 502-503.
  9. ^ a b Moore, "Proceedings at the Semi-Centennial Dinner," pg. 503.
  10. ^ Moore, "Proceedings at the Semi-Centennial Dinner," pp. 503-504.
  11. ^ Moore, "Proceedings at the Semi-Centennial Dinner," pg. 504.
  12. ^ Kimball, Penn (22 March 1986). "The History of The Nation According to the FBI". The Nation: 399–426. ISSN 0027-8378. 
  13. ^ Wreszin, Michael (1969). "Albert Jay Nock and the Anarchist Elitist Tradition in America". American Quarterly (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 21 (2): 165–189. doi:10.2307/2711573. JSTOR 2711573.  p. 173. Wreszin remarks, "It was probably the only time any publication was suppressed in America for attacking a labor leader, but the suspension seemed to document Nock's charges."
  14. ^ Navasky, Victor S. (1 January 1990). "The Merger that Wasn't". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. 
  15. ^ Freda Kirchwey: a woman of the Nation, by Sara Alpern, (President and Fellows of Harvard College; 1987), ISBN 0-674-31828-5, pp. 156 -- 161
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Ronald and Allis Radosh (2008). "Righteous among the Editors — when the Left loved Israel". World Affairs: 65–75. 
  17. ^ "Lillie Shultz, Writer and an Administrator for Jewish Congress". New York Times. April 16, 1981. 
  18. ^ Peter L. Hahn (1999). "Alignment by Coincidence: Israel, the United States, and the Partition of Jerusalem, 1949–1953". The International History Review 21 (3): 665–689. 
  19. ^ The Higher Arab Committee: Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes; The Documentary Record submitted to the United Nations, May, 1947, by the Nation Associates, (NY: The Nation Associates; 1947), end page
  20. ^ Giora Goodman (2011). ""Palestine’s Best": The Jewish Agency’s Press Relations, 1946–1947". Israel Studies 16 (3): 1–27. 
  21. ^ Foxman, Abraham H., ADL Letter to The Nation, April 21, 2004.
  22. ^ American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee website. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  23. ^ "The Pen That Just Grew". The Nation. November 16, 1964. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  24. ^ Over 300 of Peirce's reviews and pieces published in 1869–1908 in The Nation were reprinted together in Charles Sanders Peirce: Contributions to The Nation, v. 1–4, Kenneth Laine Ketner and James Edward Cook, eds., Texas Technological University Press, Lubbock, Texas, 1975–87. Out of print except online via InteLex.
  25. ^ NNDB John Maynard Keynes article, "from 1925 he was also a frequent contributor to The Nation, America's long-running leftist magazine."
  26. ^ "Sister Citizen". The Nation. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  27. ^ Hiar, Corbin (24 April 2009). "Kai Bird: The Nation's Foreign Editor". Hiar learning. Wordpress. Retrieved April 24, 2010. 

External links[edit]