E. Haldeman-Julius

On this date in 1889, Emanuel Julius, later known as E. Haldeman-Julius, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. Beginning odd-job work as a young teenager, Emanuel eventually became a newspaper copy boy. An early socialist, he educated himself at party headquarters, reading tracts on freethought, philosophy and economics. In 1906, Emanuel left his home for good, heading for New York City. His self-education continued when a sympathetic librarian at a girls' school in Tarrytown, where he had found work, introduced him to visiting dignitary Mark Twain. Emanuel's first attributed article, "Mark Twain: Radical," was published in a socialist periodical in 1910.

Emanuel worked for a variety of socialist newspapers, including New York Evening Call, Coming Nation, published in Girard, Kansas, the Milwaukee Leader, and the Chicago Evening World. He became editor and briefly acquired the Western Comrade, out of Los Angeles, interviewing Jack London. He met his wife-to-be, Marcet Haldeman, an actress and heiress, in New York City, and followed her home to Girard, Kansas. There he worked for Appeal to Reason, the largest socialist weekly in the country. The pair married in 1916, and legally combined their surnames, at the urging of Marcet's aunt, Jane Addams of Hull House fame. They had two daughters and a son. Haldeman-Julius, with his wife's help, purchased Appeal to Reason and its publishing plant in 1918. By the following year, he had initiated his People's Pocket Series—inexpensive paperbacks later renamed Little Blue Books, to match their appearance. Haldeman-Julius reprinted classics, socialist, radical and freethought literature. Most of the paperbacks contained a bonus page of Emanuel's trademark nonreligious views. Haldeman-Julius also published a variety of periodicals, including American Freeman. By 1925, he launched the Big Blue Books series, publishing such notable authors as Bertrand Russell and Joseph McCabe.

Haldeman-Julius revolutionized the publishing industry, bringing avant-garde authors to the masses. His radical politics, including attacks against President Herbert Hoover, brought him to the attention of the FBI, which he in turn pilloried in print. The businessman further alienated the status quo by publishing Joseph McCabe's allegations of Vatican collaboration with the Axis during World War II. J. Edgar Hoover's 20-year investigation of the publisher resulted in a verdict of tax evasion in 1951. E. Haldeman-Julius appealed the verdict, but was found drowned in his swimming pool later that year. D. 1951.

Photo by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius under CC 4.0

“It is natural that people should differ most, and most violently, about the unknowable . . . There is all the room in the world for divergence of opinion about something that, so far as we can realistically perceive, does not exist.”

—-E. Haldeman-Julius, "The Unknowable," The Militant Atheist

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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