Dave Dellinger

American activist

David T. Dellinger (August 22, 1915 – May 25, 2004) was an American pacifist and nonviolent activist.

Henceforth, no decent citizen owes one scrap of allegiance (if he ever did) to American law, American custom or American institutions.


  • THE COURT: . . . Mr. Dellinger, do you care to say anything? Only in respect to punishment.
MR. DELLINGER: Yes . . . and I hope you will do me the courtesy not to interrupt me while I am talking.
THE COURT: I won't interrupt you as long as you are respectful.
MR. DELLINGER: Well. I will talk about the facts and the facts don't always encourage false respect.
  • The way of life that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and is reported to have roasted alive a million people in Tokyo overnight is international and dominates every nation of the world, but we live in the United States, so our struggle is here. With this way of life, death would be more appropriate. There could be no truce or quarter. The prejudices of patriotism, the pressures of our friends and fear of unpopularity and death should not hold us back any longer. It should be total war against the economic and political and social system which is dominant in this country. The American system has been destroying human life in peace and in war, at home and abroad for decades. Now it has produced the growing infamy of atom bombing. Besides these brutal facts, the tidbits of democracy mean nothing. Henceforth, no decent citizen owes one scrap of allegiance (if he ever did) to American law, American custom or American institutions.
  • "Declaration of War", Revolutionary Nonviolence (1970).
  • I wanted the State of Massachusetts, which was called a Commonwealth but was filled with private wealth and private property, to change, as the early Christians had changed. They "had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need."
. . . at St. Francis Acres, the intentional community to which I belonged for about twenty years, for the last fifteen years we "divided the proceeds among the fellowship [the members] according to individual needs," even as we tried to share outside the community as well.
  • From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of A Moral Dissenter (1993).

Quotes about Dellinger

  • Before reading this book, I knew and greatly admired Dave Dellinger. Or so I thought. After reading his remarkable story, my admiration changed to something more like awe. There can be few people in the world who have crafted their lives into something truly inspiring. This autobiography introduces us to one of them, with the simplicity and integrity that characterizes everything Dave has done.
  • Noam Chomsky, praise for From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter by David Dellinger
  • All of his life he really struggled against war. It was interesting, I was in World War II. I was a bombardier in World War II, I wasn’t thinking about pacifism or war. You know, I was imbued like everybody else with the idea of a good war. Dave Dellinger saw beyond that. He saw farther than that. He was a conscientious objector in World War II. Not that he didn’t understand the dangers of fascism, but he thought it was necessary to uphold the ideal of non-violent resistance to fascism, to war.
  • He was so consistent, and his conscience was absolutely seamless. We all had a great mentor and friend who could be called upon in almost any direction relative to human decency and peaceableness, and who fulfilled that enduring saying of Gandhi that the peacemaker belongs where the war is, not where the peace is. David would set out for this or that trouble spot doing what could be done, and daring at times what could not be done. And for this, he will be in our memory as long as we live. Myself and my family and my friends. God bless him, God rest him.
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