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".


  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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