Nearing, Scott (1883 - 1983)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction - Scholarly

Scott Nearing -- economist, homesteader, orator, and prolific writer -- was born to a wealthy family in a Pennsylvania mining town (Morris Run) in 1883.

By 1905, he was speaking out on liberal issues, including the treatment and working conditions of miners. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton College of Economics in 1906 and taught at the school until he was fired in 1915 for his outspoken opposition to child labor.

He taught in 1916-1917 at the Univ. of Toledo in Ohio -- the only college that would take him -- until he was also fired from this school for his anti-war stance. Nearing's private papers were seized by the Justice Department (pre-FBI) in 1916. He was charged under the Espionage Act in 1917 for his opposition to WWI, as evidenced in his tract, The Great Madness, and was tried in Feb. 1919. Nearing saw the trial as a chance to educate and he provided most of his own defense; he was acquitted after 30 hours of deliberation.

Nearing started his own news service, Federated Press, and his World Events newsletter.

Many of his books are self-published.

Nearing joined the Socialist party in 1917 and ran for Congress in 1918, losing by a large margin to his challenger. He left the Socialist party in 1922 and joined the Communist party in 1927, but left them in 1930, when his writings were deemed to clash with Lenin's writings.

Scott Nearing and Helen Knothe (Nearing) met briefly in 1921, then again in 1928, and they were together from that time on, only marrying in 1947 when Scott's first wife, Nellie Seeds, from whom he was separated, died. They left New York City in 1932 to live in rural southern Vermont, where they homesteaded and ran a maple-sugaring business for 19 years.

They moved to Harborside, Maine, in 1952, where they again built their own house and outbuildings and began a business raising blueberries. Their homesteading days are well-chronicled in their books.

Scott died by self-starvation at Harborside on August 24, 1983.

The Nearing's home in Harborside, Forest Farm, is now the Good Life Center.

Selected Bibliography

  • Economics (1908; with Frank D. Watson)
  • Social Adjustment (1911)
  • The Solution of the Child Labor Problem (1911)
  • The Super Race (1912)
  • Women and Social Progress (1912 with Nellie Seeds Nearing)
  • Social Sanity (1913)
  • Financing the Wage Earner's Family (1913)
  • Wages in the United States (1914)
  • Reducing the Cost of Living (1914)
  • Income (1915)
  • Anthracite: An Instance of Natural Resource Monopoly (1915)
  • The New Education (1915)
  • Social Religion (1916)
  • Poverty and Riches (1916)
  • Civics (1916 with Jessie Field)
  • The Germs of War: A Study in Preparedness (1916)
  • The Great Madness (1917; a 32-page pamphlet against WWI)
  • The Elements of Economics (1918)
  • The Trial of Scott Nearing and the American Socialist Society (1919)
  • The American Empire (1921)
  • The Next Step (1922)
  • Oil and the Germs of War (1923)
  • Educational Frontiers (1925)
  • Dollar Diplomacy (1925; with Joseph Freeman)
  • Education in Soviet Russia (1926)
  • The British General Strike (1926)
  • Whither China: An Economic Interpretation of Recent Events in the Far East (1927)
  • The Economic Organization of the Soviet Union (1927)
  • Where is Civilization Going? (1927)
  • Black America (1929)
  • The Twilight of Empire: An Economic Interpretation of Imperialist Cycles (1930)
  • War: Organized Destruction and Mass Murder by Civilized Nations (1931)
  • Must We Starve? (1932)
  • Free Born: An Unpublishable Novel (1932)
  • Fascism (1933)
  • United World (1945)
  • The Soviet Union as a World Power (1945)
  • Democracy is Not Enough (1945)
  • The Tragedy of Empire (1945)
  • War or Peace? (1946)
  • The Revolution of Our Time (1947)
  • Economics for the Power Age (1952)
  • Man's Search for the Good Life (1954)
  • To Promote the General Welfare (1956)
  • Soviet Education (1958)
  • Freedom: Promise and Menace (1961)
  • Economic Crisis in the United States (1962)
  • Socialism in Practice (1962)
  • Cuba and Latin America (1963)
  • The Conscience of a Radical (1965)
  • The Making of a Radical (1972)
  • Civilization and Beyond (1975)

Books co-authored by Scott and Helen Nearing: - The Maple Sugar Book (1950) - Living the Good Life (1954) - USA Today: Educational Excursions Through Darkest America (1955) - The Brave New World (1958) - Socialists Around the World (1958) - The Right To Travel (1959) - Building and Using Our Sun-Heated Greenhouse: Grow Vegetables Year-Round (1977) - Continuing the Good Life: Half A Century of Homesteading (1979)

Selected References

  • The Nearing Case: The Limitation of Academic Freedom at the University of Pennsylvania by Act of the Board of Trustees, June 14, 1915; a brief of facts and opinions, by Lightner Witmer (1974)
  • Scott Nearing: Apostle of American Radicalism, by Stephen Whitfield (1974)
  • A Scott Nearing Reader: The Good Life in Bad Times, edited by Steve Sherman (1989)
  • Scott Nearing An Intellectual Biography, by John A. Saltmarsh (1991)
  • Scott Nearing: The Making of a Homesteader, by John A. Saltmarsh (1998)
  • Scott Nearing: An American Radical, An American Homesteader, An Americal Original, by John A. Saltmarsh

Selected Links