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Muste, A. J. (1885–1967)

Paul Le Blanc


Abraham Johannes Muste, more popularly known as A. J. Muste, born on January 8, 1885 in Zierikzee, the Netherlands, was a leading labor organizer and worker educator, socialist, and anti-war activist. Influenced by pacifism in his formative years, Muste later adopted a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary ideology before returning to pacifism at the end of his life. A minister in three Christian denominations, A. J. Muste was occasionally labeled “America's Gandhi” due to his central influence on twentieth-century US social movements and his commitment to non-violent protest. Muste emigrated to the US at age 6 into a Republican family in the strict Calvinist traditions of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1909 he was ordained a minister in that church, and was class valedictorian at Hope College, where he received a magna cum laude degree from Union Theological Seminary. In 1914, ever more uncomfortable with the Reformed Church, Muste turned to the Congregational Church. At the onset of World War I in Europe, Muste was a committed pacifist, inspired by yet another church, the Society of Friends (Quakers). In 1917, Muste was removed from his position as pastor of the Congregational Church, due to his adamant opposition to World War I. A year later, he took a church post with the Quakers in Providence and began work with the fledgling American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Boston. Muste was ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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