John Basil Barnhill’s “Humanity First” Letterhead

1845-1945, John Basil Barnhill, The Eagle and The Serpent / Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Just a bit of ephemera I thought was quite interesting, and I’m sure some of you reading may think so as well. Below is a cropped photo of the letterhead John Basil Barnhill, aka John Erwin McCall had for his (last?) journal Humanity First (1919). Readers will probably first know Barnhill as the publisher of The Eagle and The Serpent (1898). There is a fine tribute article about early British Nietzscheans that gives him his due when Barnhill had fallen ill: Giving “The Eagle and The Serpent” and John Basil Barnhill their due.

One source gives the following of the journals Prospectus:

“Humanity First is trying, in the spirit of John Ruskin, to remove the fundamental injustices which breed class hatred. We hold that unless Privilege is curbed, red ruin will inevitably overrun the world. We stand for the abolition of interest and all the privileges, of which it is the direful spring, and it seems to us that thus and thus only can society evolve, in a peaceful and orderly manner, to its next stage. Privilege and Humanity cannot co-exist.”

The letterhead itself reads:

Humanity First
John Basil Barnhill, Editor
Humanity says to Privilege “Thou or I, Privilege: –one of us must die.”
“Usury has always ruined the states where it was tolerated.” –Rollin
“No nation that tolerates even a per cent interest can possibly endure.” –C.A. Dana of the N.Y. Sun.
ONE DOLLAR A YEAR–English stamps and postal notes accepted.

Riverdale, Maryland, U.S.A.
(Suburb of Washington, D.C.)

I am slowly gathering biographical information about Barnhill, but visiting the University of Michigan and going through his papers is probably the most important step. I’m hoping to do that in 2019.


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