E. Merrill Root

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Edward Merrill Root
Born (1895-01-04)January 4, 1895
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Died October 26, 1973(1973-10-26) (aged 78)
Kennebunkport, Maine
Residence Richmond, Indiana
Nationality American
Alma mater

Amherst College

Andover Theological Seminary
Occupation Educator and poet
Known for Anti-communist activities

Edward Merrill Root, known as E. Merrill Root (January 4, 1895 – October 26, 1973), was an American educator and poet devoted to anti-communist causes.


Root was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of a Congregationalist Church minister. In 1917, he graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he studied under Robert Frost.

Root was a conscientious objector during World War I. He went to France with the American Friends Service Committee, saw action as an ambulance driver and returned to the United States to study at Andover, the University of Missouri, and Harvard.

In 1920, he began working at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, as a professor of English literature, where his tenure lasted until his retirement in 1960. While working at Earlham, Root began to change from a devout Quaker and pacifist into an active advocate of political conservatism.[1] Root first exploded into political print with "Darkness at Noon in American Colleges",[2] an article in which he warned parents that their sons and daughters were catching the "polio of collectivism" at colleges and universities.

Feeling that this article was not enough to convince people to listen, Root wrote Collectivism on the Campus, in which he claimed communism was widespread at American universities and colleges. A few years later, he wrote Brainwashing in the High Schools: An Examination of Eleven American History Textbooks. Both of these volumes are meticulous investigations into the undermining of American scholarship by the left. Both consider at length and in detail, subversive attacks against the integrity of American educational institutions and the blatant perversion of such disciplines as history, literature, and philosophy.[3]

These books brought Root fame in conservative circles. He also became a member of the Textbook Evaluation Committee of Operation Textbook, sponsored by America's Future under the direction of Lucille Cardin Crain.

[[Root was one of the founders and original contributors to National Review, famously squaring off against Wittaker Chambers in reviews of novels by Ayn Rand in which Root defended her as a brilliantly gifted artist against Chambers' complaint that as a militant atheist she should be driven from the nascent conservative movement. In retirement, Root withdrew from the masthead of National Review and]] became an editor of the monthly American Opinion magazine, as well as continuing his editorial relationship with The American Friend, The Measure, and Quaker Life. His book America's Steadfast Dream, published in 1971, is an anthology of twenty-five essays that appeared in American Opinion over a period of a decade.

As well as his writings on subversion in education, Merrill Root published several books of poetry that met with a measure of critical acclaim; amongst his admirers was his former teacher, Robert Frost. Root also wrote a non-critical biography of Frank Harris.

Root's central philosophy was what he called "Essentialism". His intention was "... to make coherent and affirmative a certain philosophy, and American philosophy, and to do so in terms of art." He stated his philosophy thus:

"More and more as my life has matured, I have realized that by fundamental nature I am a conservative. I have realized that I wish to preserve the roots of life whence grow the blossoms and the fruits of life, and that I have become a genuine radical - i.e., one who works with the roots of life, laboring to set them more firmly and to nourish them more richly. I applaud fruitful change that comes from an enhancement and intensification of the last things that maintain their continuity with first things. But, as I see it, such change must be growth from within, so that you and I and our nation become ever more clearly, more richly, more truly, what we always are, potentially in principle. Man is ever seeking novelty; God is forever and ever making things new. He does not make the seasons, nor the rose, nor the Labrador retriever, nor the lover nor the poet, novel - He makes them new. And because they are new in their fundamental being, they are vitally old; as tomorrow's sunrise will be the newest of dawns and the oldest of dawns, since it shone upon the Birthday of Creation."

For the individual, Root stated his philosophy as a person's "outermost expression of his innermost essence ... Man, being finite in existence, but infinite in essence, succeeds by reaching his highest point of failure."

E. Merrill Root died in 1973 in Kennebunkport on the Atlantic coast of Maine.



  • Brainwashing in the High Schools
  • Collectivism on the Campus
  • America's Steadfast Dream
  • Frank Harris: A Biography
  • The Way of All Spirit


  • Lost Eden
  • Bow of Burning Gold
  • Dawn is Forever
  • Before the Swallow Dares
  • The Seeds of Time
  • Ulysses To Penelope
  • Out Of Our Winter
  • The Light Wind Over
  • Shoulder the Sky
  • Of Perilous Seas
  • Like White Birds Flying
  • Children of the Morning