The Nation‘s been going since 1865.

But, if it hadn’t been for Hammond Lamont, great-great uncle ofConnecticut Democratic senatorial hopeful Ned Lamont, we might be telling adifferent story.

When Nation Editor Wendell Phillips Garrison was ready to retire in 1906, after “41 years of unrelaxed application” in the weekly’s service, he wanted to let The Nation die because he could think of nobody “fit to carry on who would respect it and its traditions.” Whereupon Oswald Garrison Villard, then a regular writer for the magazine, who later became its owner and editor in 1918, suggested that he consider Hammond Lamont. (Hammond had done newspaper work in Seattle and Albany, and was managing editor of the Evening Post.) After some reflection, Garrison changed his mind and asked Lamont to become The Nation‘s third editor. As one report had it, Lamont was no firebrand –one report characterized him as a “noble, kindly, conservative gentleman,” But he understood The Nation‘s role, its traditions and kept the magazine alive {Sadly, he died just three years later, during what had been expected to be a minor operation on his jaw.}

This week, The Nation–along with thousands of others acrossthis country –is poised to celebrate Ned Lamont’s victory over longtime incumbent JoeLieberman. But there’ll also be celebration of another Lamont –one whokept America’s oldest weekly alive and kicking so we could mark thisgood day.