Skip to main content

Reinhold Niebuhr

Ernest Hamlin Baker, 1889 - 1975
Reinhold Niebuhr, 21 Jun 1892 - 1 Jun 1971
Gouache, ink and graphite pencil on paperboard
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Ernest Hamlin Baker
Object number
Exhibition Label
One of America's most influential Protestant theologians in the twentieth century, Reinhold Niebuhr became nationally known in the 1920s for his oratory and support of socialist causes. He fought against Henry Ford's labor policies, argued for the abolition of private property, and became a socialist candidate for the New York State Senate. However, his Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) signaled a move away from socialism and toward the liberal theology of love. By the late 1930s, he insisted that class warfare must be put aside for the battle against fascism because a Nazi victory would devastate Western civilization. In 1944, one of his major works, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, synthesized the Christian doctrine of mankind's dual nature (the capacity to do good and evil) with democratic theory and capitalism, and became an ideological basis for post-World War II liberalism.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection