Richard Gregg (social philosopher)

Richard Bartlett Gregg (1885–1974) was an American social philosopher said to be "the first American to develop a substantial theory of nonviolent resistance" and an influence on the thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.,[1] Aldous Huxley,[2] civil-rights theorist Bayard Rustin,[3] and pacifist and socialist reformer Jessie Wallace Hughan.[4] Gregg's ideas also influenced the Peace Pledge Union in 1930s Britain,[5] although by 1937 most of the PPU had moved away from Gregg's ideas.[6]

After graduating from Harvard, Gregg sailed to India on January 1, 1925 to learn about Indian culture and to seek out Gandhi.[3] His publications include Gandhiji's Satyagraha or Non-violent Resistance, published in 1930, and The Power of Non-Violence, from 1934. His revision, The Power of Non-Violence (1960), included a foreword by King. Gregg's 1939 pamphlet Pacifist Program in Time of War, Threatened War or Fascism was a program detailing how American pacifists could use non-violence to oppose war and fascism in the United States.[7]

In the 1940s Gregg became interested in ecology and organic farming, and spent several years living on a farm owned by Scott and Helen Nearing.[8] Gregg was also author of other books, including The Compass of Civilization, and the essay The Value of Voluntary Simplicity (1936), a philosophical essay on the need and benefits of living more simply. He coined the term "voluntary simplicity". A Preparation for Science (1928) was mainly intended for preparing primary school teachers in rural India who can teach science to the rural children using locally available materials.[9]


  1. ^ Ansbro, John J. (1982). Martin Luther King, Jr: The Making of a Mind. Orbis Books. pp. 146-7, 149.
  2. ^ Huxley, Aldous and Baker, Robert S. (ed.) (2002). Complete Essays, 1936–1938. Volume 4. I.R. Dee. pp. 240, 248. See also the reference to Gregg's The Power of Non-Violence in Huxley's Ends and Means (1937).
  3. ^ a b Kosek, Joseph Kip (March 2005). "Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence". The Journal of American History. 91 (4): 1318–1348. doi:10.2307/3660175. JSTOR 3660175.
  4. ^ Bennett, Scott H. Radical Pacifism: The War Resisters League and Gandhian Nonviolence in America, 1915–1963, Syracuse University Press, 2003, p. 47.
  5. ^ Ceadel, Martin (1980). Pacifism in Britain, 1914–1945: The Defining of a Faith. Clarendon Press. pp. 250-257.
  6. ^ Ceadel, p. 256.
  7. ^ Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2015). Civil Disobedience: An Encyclopedic History of Dissidence in the United States. Routledge. pp. 81–2. ISBN 9781317474418.
  8. ^ Kosek, Joseph Kip. (2009) Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy. Columbia University Press. pp. 224.
  9. ^ Kosek, "Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence", p. 1324.

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