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Ammon Hennacy, 1893-1970

Anarchist, pacifist, anti-war activist.

  • 1893 - July 24, Anarchist/pacifist Ammon Hennacy born.

    Ammon Hennacy, anarchist pacifist

    "Being a pacifist between wars is as easy as being a vegetarian between meals."

    Best known for his work in operating the "Joe Hill Hospitality House" for transients in Salt Lick City, Utah. Hennacy was a self-described "Christian-anarchist-pacifist" who never paid taxes or went to war. A conscientious objector in both world wars, & anti-war activist, Hennacy strongly influenced the Catholic Worker movement & emerging civil rights movement of the 60s.

    "An anarchist is anyone who doesn't need a cop to tell him what to do."


  • During WWI he refused to register for military service , served two years in the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 1919 - Married (common law).
  • 1921 - He & his wife hiked throughout the 48 contiguous states.
  • Between 1925-1929 he purchased a farm and became the father of two children.
  • 1931 - Engaged in social work in Milwaukee; organized one of the first social workers' unions.
  • During WWII refused to register for the draft.
  • 1942 & 1953 he worked as a migrant laborer in the Southwest.
  • 1951 - August 6 to 11 Fasts for six days "as a penance for being a part of the civilization that threw the Atom Bomb at Hiroshima", & continues to make bombs...& wars.
  • 1952 - Baptized into the Roman Catholic Church by an anarchist priest.
  • Between 1953 & 1961 associate editor of the "Catholic Worker," in the Bowery area of New York City.
  • 1954 - Autobiography Of A Catholic Anarchist first published (314p. Catholic Worker Books, 1954; reprinted 1964, 199).
  • 1954 - Chicago: On or about Nov 21 [I don't have the exact day — ed.] The anarchist Catholic nun Dorothy Day notes:
    When one is travelling it is often only possible to write a chronicle like a Pepys diary & there is not much room for comment. So here is the bare bones of my trip during this last month in the way of a letter to our readers, which, thanks to Ammon Hennacy’s street selling campaign, is increased by some thousands...

  • Between 1955 & 1961 his picketing activities included annual air raid drill protests in New York City.
  • 1957 - Protest against war preparation by picketing the Atomic Energy Commission at Las Vegas.
  • 1958 - Picketing the Atomic Energy Commission at Cape Kennedy & also Washington, D.C..
  • 1958 - May 28, Catholic anarchist Ammon Hennacy ends 40-day fast against U.S. nuclear weapons tests.
  • 1959 - Picketing the Atomic Energy Commission at Mead Field in Omaha.
  • 1961 - Organized & directed the Joe Hill House of Hospitality in Utah, & was involved in picketing & fasting protests against scheduled executions of condemned prisoners at the State Prison, fasting for periods ranging from 12 to 45 consecutive days.
  • 1962 - Interview: A Catholic Anarchist Among The Mormons. / [Sound Recording].
  • 1963 - How I Became An Anarchist / [Sound Recording]; How I Went To Jail / [Sound Recording]; How I Went To Jail Again / [Sound Recording].
  • ?? {I don't have a date for this -- ed.] Interview: The Catholic Worker Movement / [Sound Recording].
  • 1964 - The Book Of Ammon published (reprinted, Baltimore: Fortkamp Publishing, 1994. 510p.).
  • 1970 - January 8, Shortly after the publication of his book, The One-Man Revolution in America, Ammon Hennacy suffers a heart attack while picketing for Lance & Kelback, two convicted murderers scheduled to be executed. He died six days later.
    The One-Man Revolution was published AFTER he died. He'd finished it but his widow had to do the final work to get it published.

    — Marcus Patrick Blaise, June 2003

    Joan Thomas, his wife, states explicitly he died after publication; see link below to her bio of Ammon. — ed.

  • 1974 - The Years of Grief and Laughter: A "Biography" of Ammon Hennacy (reprint, Baltimore: Fortkamp Publishing, 1993, 342p.).
  • 1970 - January 11, Ammon dictates his last public message to his spouse, Joan Thomas.
  • 1970 - January 14, Ammon Hennacy dies.


  • Brief biography by Joan Thomas,

  • "The One-Person Revolution of Ammon Hennacy," an excerpt by Patrick G. Coy,

  • Ammon Hennacy Collection,

  • The Ammon Hennacy Papers (1823-1970, bulk 1945-1970) are housed at University of Utah Marriott Library, Manuscripts Division

  • Catholic Workers, see

  • See Nicolas Walter's article, Anarchism & Religion

    Ammon Hennacy at Joe Hill House

  • See "Ammon Hennacy, an anecdotal sketch from 1957", by Don Dederer of "The Arizona Republic" archived at the Stan Iverson Memorial Library.

  • See Marcus Blaise's "A One-Person-Revolution page at

    Above all, Leo Tolstoy, who rejected all orthodoxies of both religion & politics, exerted a powerful double pressure towards anarchism, although he always repudiated the anarchist movement, & towards religion by pushing Christians towards his idiosyncratic version of anarchism as much as he pushed anarchists towards his idiosyncratic version of Christianity.

    He influenced the Western peace movement (including such figures as Bart de Ligt & Aldous Huxley, Danilo Dolci & Ronald Sampson), & also movements in the Third World (especially India, including such figures as M. K. Gandhi & J. P. Narayan). A similar development in the United States is the Catholic Worker movement (including such figures as Dorothy Day & Ammon Hennacy).

    — Nicolas Walter, "Anarchism & Religion,"
    based on a talk given at the South Place Ethical Society, 14 July 1991.

    Conscientious objectors to war make good hate subjects. What do you know of their side of the story? The next ... items are just a fragment of a copious literature:

    Cantine, Holley, and Rainer, Dachine. Prison Etiquette. Bearsville, New York: Retort Press, 1950.

    Naeve, Lowell. Fields of Broken Stones. (In collaboration with David Wieck.) Glen Gardner, New Jersey: Libertarian Press, 1950.

    Ammon Hennacy. Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist. New York: The Catholic Worker, 1954.

    — James J. Martin, An American Adventure in Bookburning: In the Style of 1918, (Ralph Myles Publishers, 1988).

    page created Jan 2002; updated June 2003

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