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Monday, July 29, 2013

Morning Read: Vermont's "World Citizen" Garry Davis Dies at 91

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM


Like many prophets, Garry Davis was egotistical, single-minded and ... uniquely in touch with a higher truth. The Vermont-based founder of the World Government of World Citizens, who died in Williston last week at age 91, gets a full-scale, strongly sympathetic send-off in today's New York Times.

"His rationale was simple, his aim immense: If there were no nation-states, he believed, there would be no wars," the Times observes.

Davis, the longtime companion of local philanthropist and activist Robin Lloyd, launched his world government in 1953 from the steps of the Ellsworth, Maine, town hall. His organization has since issued some 2.5 million "world passports." 

Davis was a regular at public meetings in and around Burlington. He often took advantage of the Q&A portion to pitch his project. Seven Days profiled Davis in 2001. Last month, a new documentary about his life was released, entitled My Country Is the World, and the World Is My Stage: The True Story of Garry Davis

click to enlarge gary.davis.jpg
"Whether Mr. Davis was a visionary utopian or a quixotic naïf was long debated by press and public," the Times recounts. "His supporters argued that the documents he issued had genuine value for refugees and other stateless people. His detractors countered that by issuing them — and charging a fee — Mr. Davis was selling false hope to people who spent what little they had on papers that are legally recognized almost nowhere in the world."

It's clear, though, where the Times and writer Margalit Fox stand on Davis' unparalled act of chutzpah in declaring himself head of a world government.

"What is beyond dispute is that Mr. Davis’s long insistence on the inalienable right of anyone to travel anywhere prefigures the present-day immigration debate by decades," the obit opines. "It likewise anticipates the current stateless conditions of Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden."

Read the full New York Times story here.

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About The Author

Kevin J. Kelley

Kevin J. Kelley

Kevin J. Kelley is a contributing writer for Seven Days, Vermont Business Magazine and the daily Nation of Kenya. He is an adjunct professor of journalism at Saint Michael's College.

More by Kevin J. Kelley

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