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.[7] 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. The book was republished in several other editions, including a Swedish translation in 1936 (as Den nya maktfaktorn: motstånd utan våld). 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.[8] 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. [9] Gregg was also author of other books, including The Compass of Civilization, and the essay The Value of Voluntary Simplicity (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill, 1936), a philosophical essay on the need and benefits of living more simply. He coined the term "voluntary simplicity". "A Preparation for Science" ( Gujarat Vidyapith,1928 )- This book was mainly intended for preparing primary school teachers in rural India who can teach science to the rural children using locally available materials. He had envisioned that science education is an absolute must for the Indian children.


  • Kosek, Joseph Kip (March 2005). "Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence". The Journal of American History. 91 (4): 1318–1348. JSTOR 3660175.
  • Fox, Richard G. (January–February 1998). "Passage from India: How Westerners Rewrote Gandhi's Message". Humanities. 19 (1).
  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. Kosek, Joseph Kip. Richard Gregg,Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence
  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. Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence
  8. Lynd, Staughton. Nonviolence in America: a documentary history, Bobbs-Merrill, 1966, (pp. 271-296 reprint part of Gregg's pamphlet).
  9. Kosek, Joseph Kip.(2009) Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy Columbia University Press. pp. 224.
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