August Mencken Sr.

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August Mencken Sr. (1854–1899) was the father of writer H. L. Mencken. August Mencken founded the "Aug. Mencken & Bro." cigar factory in 1873 with a starting capital of $44 ($23 of his own money, $21 of his brother's). A member of Baltimore's German American community, Mencken was recalled by his son as a high-tariff Republican who ran a nonunion factory and viewed the eight-hour day as "a project of foreign nihilists to undermine and wreck the American Republic". H. L. also recalled that his father downed a generous tumbler of rye whiskey before every meal, including breakfast.

In about 1889 the Baltimore local Cigar Makers' International Union called a strike. The union did not have the funds to pay full benefits to members; the best it could manage was the $2.10 cost of a ticket to Philadelphia, which had so many cigar shops it was known as the Cigarmaker's Heaven. The only proof it required of a candidate's profession were the tools of the trade: a boxwood cutting-board and cutting tools. The anti-union Mencken acquired a large quantity of these tools, rounded up a large number of drunks and tramps, gave them a shot of whiskey and a set of the tools, and sent them to Union headquarters for their tickets. In the course of a few weeks, according to Mencken himself, "at least a thousand poor bums were run through the mill." The union went broke and was effectively destroyed; the strike was broken.

In 1879, August married German American Anna Margaret Abhau (1858 – 1925). Their first child, Henry Louis (H. L.), known as "Harry" to his family, was born there a year later.

He was also the father of August Mencken Jr.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Henry Louis Mencken, The days of H.L. Mencken: Happy days, Newspaper days, Heathen days.. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (1947)