Best known as a member of the “Chicago Seven” protesters at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention, David Dellinger was a lifelong radical pacifist whose career of political action spanned seven decades. The mugshot of Dellinger presented above was taken in 1943 upon his arrest for failing to report for his World War II draft physical. In fact, that arrest was Dellinger’s second arrest for failing to comply with the draft requirements of the United States. In 1940, when he was a student at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Dellinger refused to register for the draft despite assurances that he would not be drafted because of his ministerial calling. On the first occasion, Dellinger was sent to Danbury Prison for a year, where he protested racial segregation; on the second occasion, Dellinger was sent to Lewisburg Maximum Security Prison for two years.
During the 1960s, Dellinger organized and led massive antiwar rallies, as well as the protests at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention which led to him being charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting a riot. Initially found guilty, Dellinger’s conviction was later overturned on the basis of Judge Julius Hoffman’s conduct and the FBI’s bugging of the defense lawyers. Dellinger’s lifelong devotion to pacifism ran contrary to the current of mainstream society during World War II, when military duty was seen as a moral obligation, and was borne out of an experience during his education at Yale University. Dellinger recalled punching a local resident during a fight at a football game and realizing that he never wanted to do it again.