H. L. Mencken Is Born

Writer, editor, philologist, social critic, and Baltimore native H. L. Mencken was born on September 12, 1880.

Mencken, who generated a strong literary current in Baltimore during the 1920s and 1930s, was best known for his scathing social commentary, critical support of emerging writers, and for his scholarly understanding of American usage of the English language.

Mencken first reported for the Baltimore Mercury Herald, of which he eventually became editor-in-chief, and later for the Baltimore Sun. During this period, he also wrote for The Free Lance and, then, for a New York monthly magazine, The Smart Set, which he co-edited with the drama critic George Nathan from 1914 to 1923. Mencken left the Smart Set with Nathan and A. A. Knopf to establish the American Mercury in 1924.

Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956), was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English. Mencken, known as the "Sage of Baltimore", is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century.

Mencken is known for writing The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States, and for his satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he named the "Monkey" trial.

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority…All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant… ”

— H. L. Mencken, Minority Report