"Drinking buddy of Whitman
, New York Bohemian of the Sixties (1860's, that is), pioneer psychedelic psychonaut and frontier Pythagorean, America's first Hasheesh Eater and confessional junky - this is the definitive biography of our psychic great-grandfather - Fitz Hugh Ludlow."
- Hakim Bey
, author, Temporary Autonomous Zones
Fitz Hugh Ludlow was born in New York in 1836, son to the famous abolitionist preacher Henry G. Ludlow. He attended what was then called The College of New Jersey (now Princeton) until Nassau Hall burned down in 1855. He then enrolled at Union College near Schenectedy, NY. While at Union he wrote the song still in use as the school's alma mater.
He had a long interest in Theosophy and related matters, and was naturally predisposed to experimentation with mind-altering substances. In many ways he can be regarded as an intellectual precursor to Aldous Huxley. A powerful writer, Ludlow documented the ecstatic states he experienced while under the effects of cannabis in the form of hashish in his most famous work, The Hasheesh Eater.
Ludlow was widely published, with many articles in the important New York journals of ideas of the late 1850's; Harpers, The Knickerbocker, Vanity Fair and The Atlantic Monthly.
He traveled across America in the early 1860's together with the founding artist of the Hudson River School, Albert Bierstadt, and recorded his impressions of Mt. Shasta and Yosemite. Many feel that these articles, and Bierstadt's paintings, had a profound national impact which eventually culminated in the formation by President Theodore Roosevelt of America's National Park system.
Fitz Hugh Ludlow died in Geneva of tuberculosis or pthysis one day after turning 34, in 1870.