Famed Liberal Activist Tom Hayden Dies At 76

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Tom Hayden, the preeminent 1960s radical who roused a generation of alienated young Americans, became a symbol of militancy by leading riotous protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and added Hollywood glamour to his mystique with an activist partnership and marriage to film star Jane Fonda, died Oct. 23 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76.

Hayden’s wife, Barbara Williams, said he died after a long illness, according to the Associated Press. He had heart disease and was hospitalized for a stroke in 2015.

At a moment in history – June 1962 – before U.S. escalation in Vietnam, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the civil rights March on Washington and the awakening of the environmental and feminist movements, Hayden emerged as one of the most articulate spokesmen of youthful angst.

At 22, a year out of college in Michigan, he drafted the Port Huron Statement, an expansive Utopian manifesto that extolled “participatory democracy” as an antidote to the complacency and conformity of the Eisenhower decade.

In 1965, as a guest of the North Vietnamese, he became one of the first Americans to visit wartime Hanoi. Years later, he urged Fonda to make the trip, a public relations disaster that saddled the actress with the derisive nickname “Hanoi Jane.”

With Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman and other radical leaders, Hayden went on to plot the massive antiwar demonstrations that turned Chicago’s streets into a battleground for five days in August 1968.

  • Mark

    I remember his all so clearly! So sorry though for his family and their loss.

    • Michael White

      I was 16 living in Indiana. My aunt was hurt during the riot as she protested.

      • Mark

        I lived in IN too….so glad I got the hell outta there so very long ago.

  • bkmn

    He certainly had an impact on the Democratic party. RIP.

    • MichaelJ

      I don’t think it is a stretch to say that he had an impact on the world.

    • Bill_Perdue

      No he didn;t. Your party started the Vietnam war and was a right centrist party then and now.

  • Texndoc

    I went to wiki out of curiosity to see how long he was married to Fonda and they have this:

    Hayden died on October 23, 2016, following a lengthy illness.[19] He was 76 – we are glad he is dead.

    • TuuxKabin
      • MichaelJ

        The offensive comment seems to have been deleted.

        • Johnny Wyeknot


    • douglas

      Must be a Trump Deplorable who did the update.

    • sherman

      I wondered that also.

      From Jane Fonda’s IMDB page:

      (19 January 1973 – 10 June 1990) (divorced) (2 children)

    • Nowhereman

      Wow. That reminds me of how I heard that John Lennon had been assassinate. I was overseas and heard it on Armed Forces Radio. The DJ basically said “Who cares?”

      • TuuxKabin

        I was around the corner from the Dakota in a gay bar on Columbus Avenue, between 75th & 76th, and overheard two guys walking in talking about John Lennon being shot. Sarcasually. I interrupted them to ask for details and they took attitude and great offense that I would interrupt them. One of them with much dismissal told me what happened, I left the bar and went home.

    • Those kinds of edits get reverted pretty quickly. #NerdWork

  • AndyinChicago

    Oh no. This is sad news. The Port Huron Statement is such an interesting snapshot of how in a specific moment people on the left could rally behind a strong message. I’m so sorry for his family and relatives.

  • TuuxKabin

    His flame isn’t diminished, it’ll burn and shine on. Rest In Peace good man, and thank you for the good fight you fought and lead. Condolences to family, friends, and country.

    • Johnny Wyeknot

      Nicely said.

      • TuuxKabin

        Thanks. I admired the man to no end. Even thought of returning to California when he was in the legislature. Glad I stayed here, in the long run, but he had a pull on me. So rare a man.

        • karmanot

          Totally agree!

  • Mark

    He was also responsible for the Hayden Act, legislation that extended the amount of time impounded animals must be held by California animal shelters before they could be euthanized. The legislation is credited with giving owners and rescue groups more time to either retrieve their pets or place them in new homes. The law has saved countless animals from being destroyed. Godspeed, Senator Hayden.

    • prixator

      Just in doing that, he behaved in a more “christian” manner than most of those who claim that title.

      More love.

      • JCF

        I’m fairly certain Hayden was Roman Catholic (but don’t know if he practiced in recent years).

    • Nowhereman

      True then true today. Only the scabs are thicker now.

  • BobSF_94117

    What turned the streets of Chicago into a battleground was police violence.

    • Michael White

      Mayor Daley called for the police action.

    • Nowhereman

      Yup–that was one of our first major police riots.

  • Brian Mccoy

    Good riddance-we can all thank HIM and his gang for Nixon-practically threw voters to him with their “stunt”. So yeah-good riddance for stupid actions 40 years on and we still pay the price for such idiots.

    • dr morbius

      As always, shut up and vote for the Horrible Democrat, right? (Humphrey, Clinton, puke puke)

    • karmanot

      NASTY troll

  • Johnny Wyeknot

    He was a true patriot. He helped shape the way my generation viewed war. And he was right.

  • Gene Perry

    Cool dude … inspired a generation. His voice & passion will be missed.

  • Acronym Jim

    Actually, I believe it was more the fault of Mayor Daley and the police that turned Chicago’s streets into a battleground for those five days in 1968.

    • TuuxKabin

      I agree.

    • karmanot

      exactly so!

  • JIM W

    I hope his final act was to vote. I haven’t checked to see if California early voting has started.

    • Conor Karrel

      It has, I got my vote by mail ballot this weekend, but I signed up late. My boyfriend got his weeks ago.

  • Hank

    Tom Hayden, as “radical” as he seemed to be in the 60s, was a TRUE PATRIOT!!! His and others, who questioned and stood up to the “political establishment” to question our role in Viet Nam and everything he has done afterwards, shook the American People out of their complacency and made people THINK!!! My condolences to his family and friends

  • dr morbius

    A very timely piece on how Hayden-generation Dems let the people down.


    • stevenj

      The Atlantic endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, only the 3rd presidential endorsement in their history.

  • fuzzybits

    RIP Tom Hayden.

  • Chuck in NYC

    At the time I’m posting this, I see there are 33 comments here and more than 200 in the thread on yoga pants.

    The 60s are well and truly over. RIP, Tom Hayden.

    • EweTaw

      And RIP the 1960s. 🙁

    • karmanot

      For those of us who survived and tell the stories, the 60’sare never over.

  • EweTaw

    Hayden was an important figure in helping focus upon serious problems in the 1960s, especially Vietnam. As for those “riotous demonstrations” at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, it was John Daly and his snarling police force that instigated the riots. Other operatives not affiliated with the demonstrators or the Democratic Party were also involved.

    We all die. Sorry Hayden is gone. He died too early. RIP

  • karmanot


  • infmom

    Honestly? Good riddance. And I’m saying this as one of those hippie pinko liberals who lived through the 60s and thought Hayden was a self-promoting nitwit who didn’t have the balls to step up and take the blame for what happened to Jane Fonda.

    • stevenj

      Jane Fonda tells her story about her trip to Hanoi here:


      Since she doesn’t mention Tom Hayden’s name at all what is it that you think he did?

      • infmom

        Hayden went to North Vietnam first. I’m not sure what he hoped to accomplish other than show off. He later persuaded Fonda to go, and it was on that trip that the infamous photograph was taken. It was Hayden’s idea for her to go to Hanoi. He could have stood up and said that the whole thing was his idea, but he didn’t. He sat back and let Fonda take all the abuse alone.

        Hayden did what Emily Dickinson described, tell his name the livelong day to an admiring bog.

  • djcoastermark

    I for one, and sure there are others, didn’t know what Mr. Hayden was all about.Time for me to have a little history lesson and learn something new. That’s one nice thing about the internet, it can open your eyes at times into new discoveries.

  • JCF

    Memory eternal, Tom. La lucha continua!

  • Bill_Perdue

    Tom Hayden, like many liberals who were activated by the war in Vietnam, helped organize the SDS intervention to stifle the war plans of the pigs LBJ and Nixon.

    Failing that, and and failing attempts to change the essentially right wing nature of the Democrats, many of these these SDS liberals flirted with ultraleftism and ‘attacked’ Chicago, the scene of many police riots and the home of many GIs murdered in Vietnam by the Democrats and Republicans. Hayden was prosecuted to attempt to hide the fact that it was the police who rioted in 1968.

    Because it was not grounded in the working class and especially in the struggles of Black workers, the ultraleftism of these liberals also failed and as the radicalization of the 1960s and 70s waned they returned to their liberalism, wasting their efforts in futile attempts to ‘work’ for a leftist agenda through the DP, which remains a right centrist party owned by the rich, lock, stock and barrel.


    • stevenj

      The Vietnam War was a manufactured war set up by the CIA/the military and Allen Dulles under Eisenhower in the mid/late 50’s. I think LBJ was scared shitless that he would be assassinated also if he tried to do what JFK had planned for by the end of ’65.