Tom Hayden Biography

(American Anti-War, Civil Rights, and Intellectual Activist in the 1960s)

Birthday: December 11, 1939 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Royal Oak, Michigan, United States

Thomas Emmet Hayden was a social reformer, non-fiction writer, political activist, and politician from America. Considered the most important radical figure of the 1960s America, he was a prominent participant in the protests against the Vietnam War and in the civil rights movement. A Michigan native, Hayden developed anti-religious and anti-authoritarian views quite early in his life due to his upbringing. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he was involved in student politics. In 1962, he co-authored the Port Huron Statement, a manifesto of the influential leftist student activist group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), of which he was one of the initiators. He was one of the seven individuals to stand trial in 1968 on the charges of inciting riots and anti-war and counterculture protests in Chicago. For the most part of his life, Hayden worked in academia and was affiliated as a professor with several schools. As a politician, he held seats in both the California Assembly and California Senate.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Thomas Emmet Hayden

Died At Age: 76


Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Williams, Casey Cason (m. 1961–1962), Jane Fonda (m. 1973–1990)

father: John Francis Hayden

mother: Genevieve Isabelle

children: Liam Jack Diallo Hayden, Troy Garity

Born Country: United States

Social Activists Political Activists

Died on: October 23, 2016

place of death: Santa Monica, California, United States

Cause of Death: Prolonged Illness

Diseases & Disabilities: Heart Problem

Ancestry: Irish American

Ideology: Democrats

U.S. State: Michigan

More Facts

education: University Of Michigan

  • 1

    What were Tom Hayden's major accomplishments?

    Tom Hayden was a prominent social and political activist known for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and his work as a California state legislator.
  • 2

    How did Tom Hayden contribute to the anti-Vietnam War movement?

    Tom Hayden was a co-founder of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and played a key role in organizing protests against the Vietnam War, including the famous March on the Pentagon in 1967.
  • 3

    What impact did Tom Hayden have on American politics?

    Tom Hayden was a leading figure in progressive politics in the United States, advocating for social justice, civil rights, and environmental protection throughout his career.
  • 4

    Where did Tom Hayden stand on environmental issues?

    Tom Hayden was a strong advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability, supporting policies to address climate change and protect natural resources.
  • 5

    How did Tom Hayden influence the younger generation of activists?

    Tom Hayden's work as a social activist and his writings on political organizing inspired many young people to get involved in grassroots movements and fight for social change.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on December 11, 1939, in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA, Tom Hayden was the son of Genevieve Isabelle (née Garity) and John Francis Hayden. A US Marine turned accountant, his father was an abusive drunkard. His mother brought him up on her own after she divorced his father when Hayden was ten years old.
His distaste for organised religions originated from his experience with the leader of his church, Catholic priest Charles Coughlin, who was a known anti-Semite.
After graduating from Dondero High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, he enrolled at the University of Michigan. It was there that he became part of SDS as one of its earliest members and from 1962 to 1963, served as its president.
He was also highly active as a writer during his college years. He had been the editor of his high school newspaper and was serving as the editor of the ‘Michigan Daily.’
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Social Activism
Published in 1962, the Port Huron Statement, written primarily by Tom Hayden, detailed the “fundamental problems of American society and laid out a radical vision for a better future".
It promoted participatory democracy, supported by both non-violent civil disobedience and the notion that individual citizens should be an integral part of the creations of the social decisions that would affect the quality and direction of their lives. The manifesto symbolized the arrival of the New Left in the US political scene.
Tom Hayden was seen as one of the most radical figures in the left in the 1960s. He had also emerged as a leading anti-war and civil rights movement activist. A charismatic, intelligent and engaging speaker, his ability to garner support for his causes drew not only the admiration of his colleagues but also the suspicion of the US government.
During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, Hayden was one of the leaders of the protest organised by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. It descended into a full-fledged riot when the police attempted to break up the demonstration.
Hayden and six others were charged by the US government for conspiracy and incitement to riot. During the trial, these seven individuals came to be known as the ‘Chicago Seven’. Eventually, all the charges were reversed and remanded in an appeal court.
During the Vietnam War, Hayden visited Southeast Asia multiple times and each of his visits garnered its share of controversy. In 1972, he established the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC), which organised public protests against the Vietnam War. The organisation was active until 1975.
Between 1982 and 1992, Tom Hayden, a Democrat, was elected five times to the California State Assembly. He subsequently held a California State Senate seat for eight years (1992-2000). In 1997, he launched a mayoral campaign in Los Angeles, but the voters re-elected incumbent Republican Richard Riordan.
He was an ardent supporter of animal rights. In February 1998, he introduced Hayden Act as Senate Bill 1785, which expanded the minimum impound time of pets. In the final years of his life, he served as the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County.
Academia & Writings
Tom Hayden was predominantly associated with Scripps College and Pitzer College, teaching a number of courses on social movements. He also served as a professor at Occidental College, Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and the University of California.
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Hayden made his debut as an author with ‘The Port Huron Statement’ in 1962. Some of his other literary works are ‘The Other Side’ (1966), ‘Reunion: A Memoir’ (1988), ‘The Zapatista Reader’ (2002), and ‘Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement’ (2017).
Family & Personal Life
Tom Hayden had been married three times. His first wife was civil rights activist Sandra "Casey" Cason, whom he married in 1961. A year later, they divorced.
On January 19, 1973, he exchanged wedding vows with actress and social activist Jane Fonda. Their son, actor Troy Garity, was born on July 7, 1973. They also informally adopted social activist Mary Williams (born 1967) in 1982. Hayden and Fonda divorced on June 10, 1990.
His third wife was actress Barbara Williams, who he married on August 8, 1993. They adopted a son together, named Liam (born 2000).
Hayden passed away on October 23, 2016, in Santa Monica, California, after a prolonged battle with an illness. He was 76 years old at the time.
In the 2000 biographical drama ‘Steal This Movie’, his son, Troy, portrayed him on screen.
Facts About Tom Hayden
Tom Hayden was a key figure in the civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960s, advocating for social justice and equality.
He was known for his eloquent writing and passionate speeches, inspiring many to take action for positive change.
Hayden co-authored the Port Huron Statement, a pivotal document that outlined the principles of the Students for a Democratic Society.
In his later years, Hayden served as a California state senator, working on issues such as environmental protection and affordable housing.
Hayden was a strong proponent of grassroots organizing and community empowerment, believing in the power of ordinary people to make a difference in society.

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