Lincoln Steffens

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Lincoln Steffens

Lincoln Austin Steffens (April 6, 1866 – August 9, 1936) was an American investigative journalist and one of the leading muckrakers of the Progressive Era in the early 20th century. He launched a series of articles in McClure's, called "Tweed Days in St. Louis", that would later be published together in a book titled The Shame of the Cities. He is remembered for his sympathetic 1919 statement after visiting Soviet Russia in 1919 and for investigating corruption in municipal government in American cities.


  • The misgovernment of the American people is misgovernment by the American people.
    • Lincoln Steffens, The Shame of the Cities (New York: Hill and Wang, 1957 [1904]), p. 2.
  • I have seen the Future, and it works.
    • Lincoln Steffens, letter to Marie Howe, 3 Apr. 1919. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations comments: "Steffens had composed the expression before he had even arrived in Russia."
  • Soviet Russia was a revolutionary government with an evolutionary plan. Their plan was, not by direct action to resist such evils as poverty and riches, graft, privilege, tyranny, and war, but to seek out and remove the causes of them. They were not practicing what we and they preached. They were not trying to establish political democracy, legal liberty and negotiated peace — not now. They were at present only laying a basis for these good things. They had set up a dictatorship, supported by a small, trained minority, to make and maintain for a few generations a scientific rearrangement of economic forces which would result in economic democracy first and political democracy last.

Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Hartshorn, I Have Seen the Future: A Life of Lincoln Steffens (Counterpoint, 2011), ISBN 978-1582438078.

External links[edit]

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