Black and white photograph of Mencken looking over his shoulder at the camera

H.L. Mencken

(1880 - 1956)

H.L. Mencken began reporting for the Baltimore Herald at the age of eighteen and was the paper’s editor by twenty-five, later recalling, “I believed then, and still believe today, that it was the maddest, gladdest, damnedest existence ever enjoyed by mortal youth.” In 1906 he began writing and editing for the Sun papers, an association that lasted, with some interruptions, for more than forty years, while also publishing Notes on Democracy in 1926, Treatise on the Gods in 1930, and Treatise on Right and Wrong in 1934.

All Writing

Liberty and democracy are eternal enemies.

—H.L. Mencken, 1925

There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.

—H.L. Mencken, 1920

Every man sees in his relatives, and especially in his cousins, a series of grotesque caricatures of himself.

—H.L. Mencken, 1919

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

—H.L. Mencken, 1921


About the presidential election of 1928, between anti-Prohibitionist Al Smith and Prohibitionist Herbert Hoover, H.L. Mencken wrote, “If Al wins tomorrow, it will be because the American people have decided at last to vote as they drink.” Hoover won, earning 444 of the 531 electoral-college votes.

Issues Contributed