Apr 18 2022
Thomas Emmet Hayden (December 11, 1939 – October 23, 2016) was an American social and political activist, author, and politician. Hayden was best known for his role as an anti-war, civil rights, and intellectual activist in the 1960s, authoring the Port Huron Statement and standing trial in the Chicago Seven case.
In later years, he ran for political office numerous times, winning seats in both the California Assembly and California Senate. At the end of his life he was the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County. He was married to Jane Fonda for 17 years, and is the father of actor Troy Garity.
In 1965, while still committed in Newark, Hayden, along with Communist Party USA member Herbert Aptheker and Quaker peace activist Staughton Lynd, undertook a controversial visit to North Vietnam. The three toured villages and factories and met with an American POW[who?] whose plane had been shot down. The result of this tour of North Vietnam, at a high point in the war, was a book titled The Other Side. Staughton Lynd later wrote that the New Left disavowed “the Anti-Communism of the previous generation”, and that Lynd and Hayden had written, in Studies on the Left: “We refuse to be anti-Communist. We insist the term has lost all the specific content it once had.”
In 1968, Hayden joined the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (“the Mobe”), and played a major role in the protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrations were broken up by what the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence later described as a police riot. Six months after the convention, he and seven other protesters including Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and incitement to riot as part of the “Chicago Eight”, a.k.a. the “Chicago Seven” after Bobby Seale’s case was separated from the others. Hayden and four others were convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot, but the charges were later reversed and remanded on appeal. The government did not re-try the case, and thereafter elected to dismiss the substantive charges.
Hayden made several subsequent well-publicized visits to North Vietnam as well as Cambodia during America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, which had expanded under President Richard M. Nixon to include the adjoining nations of Laos and Cambodia, although he did not accompany his future wife, actress Jane Fonda, on her especially controversial trip to Hanoi in the spring of 1972. The next year he married Fonda and they had one child, Troy Garity, born on July 7, 1973. In 1974, he appeared in a brief scene as an ER doctor in the film Death Wish. In the same year, while the Vietnam War was still ongoing, the documentary film Introduction to the Enemy, a collaboration by Fonda, Hayden, Haskell Wexler and others, was released. It depicts their travels through North and South Vietnam in spring 1974.
Hayden also founded the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC), which operated from 1972 to 1975. The IPC, operating in Boston, New York, Detroit and Santa Clara, mobilized dissent against the Vietnam War and demanded unconditional amnesty for U.S. draft evaders, among other aims. Jane Fonda, a supporter of the IPC, later turned this moniker into a name for her film production firm, IPC Films, which produced in whole or in part, movies and documentaries such as F.T.A. (1972), Introduction to the Enemy (1974), The China Syndrome (1979), Nine to Five (1980) and On Golden Pond (1981). Hayden and Fonda divorced in 1990.
Writing about Hayden’s role in the 1960s New Left, Nicholas Lemann, national correspondent for The Atlantic, said that “Tom Hayden changed America”, calling him “father to the largest mass protests in American history”, and Richard N. Goodwin, who was a speechwriter for presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, said that Hayden, “without even knowing it, inspired the Great Society.” Staughton Lynd, though, was critical of the Port Huron and New Left concept of “participatory democracy”, stating: “We must recognize that when an organization grows to a certain size, consensus decision-making is no longer possible, and some form of representative government becomes necessary.”
Brian Benben portrayed Hayden in the 1987 film Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8. Troy Garity, Hayden’s son, portrayed his father in the 2000 film Steal This Movie!. Hayden was voiced by Reg Rogers in the 2007 animated documentary Chicago 10. David Julian Hirsh played Hayden in the 2010 film The Chicago 8. Hayden was portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the 2020 drama film The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Image: William S. Murphy, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…, via Wikimedia Commons