Frederick Lewis Allen

American historian and editor of Harper's Magazine

Frederick Lewis Allen (July 5, 1890, in Boston, Massachusetts – February 13, 1954, in New York City) was the editor of Harper's Magazine and also notable as an American historian of the first half of the 20th century.

Frederick Lewis Allen in 1932


  • By the end of the war ... social compulsion had become a national habit. The typical American had never had more than a half-hearted enthusiasm for the rights of the minority; he had been accustomed to set his community in order by the first means that came to hand - a sumptuary law, a vigilance committee, or if necessary a shotgun. Declarations of Independence and Bills of Rights were all very well in the history books, but when he was running things himself he had usually been open to the suggestion that liberty was another name for license and that the Bill of Rights was the last resort of scoundrels. During the war he had discovered how easy it was to legislate and propagandize and intimidate his neighbors into what seemed to him acceptable conduct, and after peace was declared he went on using the same sort of methods to see that they continued to conform ... He thought he knew how people ought to behave, and he would stand for no nonsense.
    • Only Yesterday, ch. 1, Harper (1931)
  • Wilson was a visionary who liked to identify himself with "forward-looking man"; Harding … was as old-fashioned as those wooden Indians which used to stand in front of cigar stores.... Wilson thought in terms of the whole world; Harding was for America first. And, finally, whereas Wilson wanted America to exert itself nobly, Harding wanted to give it a rest.
    • Only Yesterday, ch. 2, Harper (1931)
  • It is easier to tear down a code than to put a new one in its place.
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