August Mencken Sr.
This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (October 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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.
- Henry Louis Mencken, The days of H.L. Mencken: Happy days, Newspaper days, Heathen days.. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (1947)