Open Letter

Hunter wrote this essay in 1955 for The Athenaeum Literary Association’s bound yearbook, it won third prize in The Nettleroth contest. Great writing for an 18 year old, and makes for a funny read too.

Young people of America, awake from your slumber of indolence and hark-en the call of the future! Do you realise you are rapidly becoming a doomed generation? Do you realise that the fate of the world and of generations to come rests on your shoulders? Do you realise that at any time you may be called on to protect your country and the freedom of the world from the creeping scourge of communism? How can you possibly laugh in the face of the disasters which face us all from all sides? Oh ignorant youth, the world is not a joyous place. The time has come for you to dispense with the frivolous pleasures of childhood and get down to honest toil until you are sixty-five. Then and only then can you relax and collect your social security and live happily until the time of your death. Also your insolent attitude disturbs me greatly. You have the nerve to say that you have never known what it is like to live in a secure and peaceful world; you say that the present generation has balled things up to the extent that we now face a war so terrible that the very thought of it makes hardened veterans shudder; you say it is our fault that World War ll was fought in vein; you say that it is impossible to lay plans for the future until you are sure you have a future. I say Nonsense! None of these things matter. If you expect a future you must carve it out in the face of these things. You also say that you must wait until after you have served your time with the service to settle down. Ridiculous! It is a man’s duty to pull up stakes and serve his country at any time, then settle down again.

I say there is no excuse for a feeling of insecurity on your part; there is no excuse for juvenile delinquency; there is no excuse for your attitude except that you are rotten and lazy! I was never like that! I worked hard; I saved; I didn’t run around and stay out late at night; I carved out my own future through hard work and virtuous living, and look at me now: a respectful and successful man.

I warn you, if you don’t start now it will be too late, and the blame for the end of the world will be laid at your feet. Heed my warning, oh depraved and profligate youth; I say awake, awake, awake!

Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.

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Join the conversation! 34 Comments

  1. I love the fighting against Communism/retiring with Social Security.

  2. Awesome. Thank you for posting this.

  3. Be perpetually ready for everything, and if you aren’t, then you cannot complain about being caught off guard. Physically, Mentally, Kinesthetically, and Intelligence-wise.

  4. Ha! ..and just look at how sweet we have it now.

  5. Ha! indeed Roger, you speak a serious truth. Don’t we all love staying up late more than ever? and yet if Hunter was alive today, he’d surely still recognize that capitalism has the blue collar man in chains. Nothing has changed.

  6. This guy has been brainwashed by the “pleasures” of capitalism. Be a good little drone and your life will be great as soon as you’re old enough to retire. What a joke, and he has the nerve to call his generation’s youth rebellious, lazy, ‘delinquents”, when he is sitting on his high horse stroking his own ego. A “successful and respectful” “man” should be respectful of the generation that will be paying his own social security check when he turns 65. It is just that this essay is signed John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.

  7. Corrupt Youth: Have you ever HEARD of Hunter S. Thompson? The man was a genius at social criticism and was being clearly sarcastic here…he is not “sitting on a high horse” or “stroking his ego,” but rather making a scathing social commentary. Read up next time before you make yourself look like a fool.

  8. I think a lot of comment makers here totally missed the point…
    the indignant people make me laugh. Sarcasm, people, sarcasm! and oh so true.
    My teachers tell me that things are so aweful.
    They tell me the world is coming to major turning points.
    They say that the worst problems we’ve ever seen are coming to fruition.
    Well, now, didn’t they say the same thing to you when you were young?
    Weren’t we all alike as young people?

    so seriously, people, stop taking yourselves so seriously.

    I like this a lot.

  9. Huge hunter thompson fan. This is brilliant/hilarious. I definitely can’t miss pointing out that corrupt youth, you are a complete idiot! Did you even read this before you posted something? If you can’t see the sarcasm in the writting then clearly the end shows you. Seriously smarten up!

  10. Just discovered your site – it’s great. Great post!

  11. I would like to consider myself one of the youth of the age, and would like to point out that this is obvious satire. I’m sorry it struck the hearts of some people the wrong way, but go back, look at it like an episode of House, and laugh like you’re supposed to.

  12. Go slowly with Corrupt Youth. I used to be appalled that some people are not amused by satire, nor do they see the truths that satire can reveal. I used to think that such people were “stupid” or intellectually lazy or childish in their thinking. Not so. Some people–as bright as they may be in other areas–simply lack the capacity for the sort of multi-dimensional thinking necessary to understanding satire–or sarcasm. It is not even a question of whether they would agree with the revealed truth—explained slowly and in flat, linear terms, I think Corrupt Youth WILL agree with Thompson’s message.

  13. Well spoken Relic,The vast numbers of intellectually handicapped in this land frightens me sometimes.Hunter had a way of telling someone there an idiot and have them walk away thinking they have been complimented.Common sense really isn’t that common.

  14. Corrupt Youth’s final sentence “It is just that this essay is signed John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.” tells me that he DOES both understand and agree with Thompson. He’s refuting Righteous, as we all are, and I think that most comments missed that. Regardless, that’s all off topic I suppose. Nice essay.

  15. Yea, well autism is like that. You can’t get sarcasms that well when suffering autism or aspergers.

  16. Righteous-Hypocrite/Santorum 2012!
    “A Frothy Mixture Of Liberty & Democracy FTW!”

  17. Just graduated high school and I identify with this. 😦

  18. […] Note 01: Table Manners With apologies to Hunter S. Thompson, there is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a reporter in the depths of a press lunch […]

  19. for those who did not get the sarcasm,look at ‘who’ it is written by, after Fearfully and disgustedly yours-‘John J. Righteous-Hypocrite’…if this is not sarcastic enough, i don’t know what is…

  20. @corrupt youth: you make me laugh. You are so incredibly stupid, and it blows my mind.

  21. Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.
    Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.
    Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.
    Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.
    Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.
    Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.
    Fearfully and disgustedly yours, John J. Righteous-Hypocrite.

    IS THAT NOT CLEAR OR WHAT?!?!!? HELOOOOO!!!! SARCASM!!!! Oh.. Wait… Maybe some idiots are needing me to be more clear… so..

    Sarcasm work this way… I say… “Oh look what a beautifull day to go walking” and I enter my home again… while outside theres a tornado… YOU GET IT????

    I didn´t really meant what I´ve said… was a joke… Now I don´t think I have to tell you what that is…( I hope)

    Stop making fools of yourselves answering to this publication with comments like “corrupt youth: you make me laugh. You are so incredibly stupid, and it blows my mind”… Really VICE ( if that even your name)… You are so incredibly stupid, and it blows my mind.

  22. love hunter s. thompson, drug addict or not (;
    speaking of drugs… anyone notice his reference in saying world war 2 was fought “in vein” ? lol obscure smack reff ftw??? love this man he was a genius, and besides the drug reference this piece is lovely and dripping with sarcasm and still rings true today, like any good piece of historical American commentary!!

  23. The people on this link are incredibly cruel. Why has this essay attracted such haters who claim to understand the sarcasm used in this essay and be so eager to chastise an honest mistake so brutally? I’m sorry CY that you were treated this way.

  24. i expect that after several years of this piece being here, and it never needing to be commented on (and me never feeling compelled to) it will suddenly be littered with comments, as is already occurring.

    the trolling and the hatred so typical of internet forums and threads will proliferate, and has already begun, taking away from what should have brought people here, and all that people should have left with. all that matters is what YOU think of this piece – not these comments. leave it alone. just for once.

    until the occupy protests this post had been heavily viewed but uncommented on.

  25. Hunter S. Thompson Essay. 1955 well, its now more than 55years old – whats changed?
    MANY and NOTHING !!
    Its the wrong way to use our brain – if we starting discussions like this – no – LOOK in the HISTORY last 2000years
    if for you its not enough – last 5000years.
    Evolution now everywhere of course in different levels and territories – but if we continue to kill our planet,animals and humans from today – never we reach the next step in the evolution: BRAIN HOMO SAPIENS
    We 99% have to use our brain now to change the course where we going in the same boat, that means also all Governments, Shareholders and other rich.
    Some areas have woods or minerals, some other have technologies, some other have nothing – but we’re all together one world where we can live or not all together with air, water, oceans, energy and food.
    reconnomend song: Bob Marley – ONE LOVE

  26. […] Open Letter to The Youth of Our Nation – Hunter S. Thompson […]

  27. […] Hunter S Thompson’s open letter to the youth of the nation (in 1955) – […]

  28. Hunter was a fracking genius. I love the essay! Amazing man, with amazing skills.

  29. Love this piece, thanks for posting it !
    There is always room for truth in a world brimming with lies. I wish HST was still alive, I would love to read his take on our current financial woes. No doubt, it would have been nothing short of great.

  30. Reblogged this on goetzvonberlinchingen and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  31. Reblogged this on J.C. Henderson's blog and commented:
    Really well written letter by a young Hunter S. Thompson. I like the term “Doom Generation” as well, seems appropriate even for today with this Doom and Gloom society we all seem to be living in.

  32. I like how he signed off his name as much as the rest of it. Hmmm….he did mistakenly write “fought in vein…” I suppose that’s allowed of an 18-yr-old. Well, the question then remains…of the ones he addressed who are living…who are into their 70s and 80s. DID they salvage their older years?

    In case you didn’t get to this….just thought you might want to chk out:

  33. […] Hunter S. Thompson Essay. “Open Letter To The Youth Of Our Nation” 1955. […]

  34. […] each generation has thought of itself as doomed. Hunter Thompson said as much in his essay, Open Letter to The Youth of Our Nation, which he penned in 1955 at the tender age of eighteen. In it, Thompson takes on the heartily […]

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About Marty

A long time fan of Hunter S. Thompson and long time book collector. Gentleman and a scholar. A pillar of society. A fine judge of wine and everything that ennobles the human struggle.




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