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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 882

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This is the grave of George Horace Lorimer.

Born in Louisville in 1867, Lorimer grew up pretty well off the son of a prominent minister. who had churches in several big cities over the years. Lorimer went to high school at a fancy school in Chicago, followed by Yale, though he did not graduate. He first started back into Chicago, working for the Armour meatpacking firm for eight years, between 1887 and 1895. He left to start his own grocery wholesale outfit, which went belly up pretty quickly.

So Lorimer went into journalism, while also briefly attending Colby College, though he did not graduated from here either. He was initially based in Boston. He was particularly astute as being up on the literary scene of the day and writing about it. This was his ticket to success. When Cyrus Curtis bought The Saturday Evening Post in 1897, he brought Lormier on board. In 1899, became editor of The Post, which he held until just before his death. The Post became THE place for aspiring writers to be published in these years. Among those who did get into the paper were Frank Norris, Jack London, Willa Cather, Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and Theodore Dresier. Basically a who’s who of the literary scene of the early twentieth century. In 1916, Lorimer hired an unknown artist to adorn covers for the magazine: Norman Rockwell. That worked out well for all involved.

Lorimer also published a few novels between the 1900s and the 1920s. His 1903 book Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son, was made into a 1922 film starring William Russell called A Self-Made Man. This pretty much summed up Lorimer’s philosophy. He loved the idea of America as a place where anyone could make it. So not only did he write about this, but he published story after story of boostrapism. The magazine also took on a strong political tone of supporting Republican Progressives in the early 20th century, especially Theodore Roosevelt. Not surprisingly given that ally, Lorimer used the pages of his journal to push for conservationist measures, especially protecting the Grand Canyon. By 1910, it was one of if not the top selling publication in the United States. Lorimer grew wealthy and bought a big estate outside of Philadelphia. The magainze hit its peak in the 1920s, but suffered in the 30s. Lorimer hated FDR and the New Deal as a betrayal of his boostrapist philosophy. Like a lot of Progressives (not all, but a lot), such as Herbert Hoover for that matter, the government-centric nature of reform was too far for Lorimer, though it was in fact the natural heir of Progressivism.

Lorimer retired in 1936, feeling depressed that he was lost in New Deal America. He was also old and sickly by this time and he died in 1937.

George Horace Lorimer is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If you would like this series to visit other journalists of the Progressive Era, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. S.S. McClure is in Galesburg, Illinois and John Milton Oskison is in Vinita, Oklahoma. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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