Reds in America - Richard M. Whitney

American Civil Liberties Union

At the suggestion of Felix Frankfurter of Harvard, the American Civil Liberties Union decided to ask William Allen White to serve on the national committee of that organization. Frankfurter, William Z. Foster, who was seated as fraternal delegate to the unlawful Communist convention at Bridgman, Michigan; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Crystal Eastman, Roger N. Baldwin, Morris Hillquit, Scott Nearing and many other radicals, some of them Communists, are members of the national committee of this organization; and White's defiance of his friend, Governor Allen, in the 1922 coal strike troubles in Kansas was the recommendation for White's availibility as a committeeman.

The American Civil Liberties Union is definitely linked with Communism through the system of interlocking directorates, so successfully used by the Communist party of America in penetrating into every possible organization with a view to getting control so that when the time comes for the great general strike which, they believe and hope, will lead to the overthrow of the United States Government by violence, they will already have these bodies definitely aligned with them. The party has several members in the American Civil Liberties Union and the constant activities of that body are proving of great moral and financial benefit to the Communists.

Rose Pastor Stokes, who was a delegate to the illegal Bridgman convention, was one of those reported present at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, on August 28, 1922, at the Union's headquarters in New York, although she was not a member of the committee, when the decision was reached, after discussion of White's desirability as a member of the National Committee, to elect him to the Committee if, upon inquiry, it was learned that he would accept. Among the others at this meeting were Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Robert Morse Lovett, then president of the Federated Press League, the connection of which with the Communist party has been shown in a previous chapter. Lovett wrote to the Communist leader, Bruce Rogers, in Los Angeles, to canvass the motion picture colony, giving the names of several prominent movie people who "are with us," and who "helped us before and will do it again"; Norman M. Thomas, Walter Nelles, B.W. Huebsch, the well-known publisher, and Roger N. Baldwin, the "slacker" during the war who served a sentence in prison and who is one of the active heads of the organization.

At this same time meeting of the Executive Committee it was also decided to arrange a meeting for Senator Borah on the amnesty question and to supply funds for the meeting. This is not the first time that Senator Borah's name has appeared in the minutes of the meetings of the American Civil Liberties Union, for he has asked this radical organization to prepare bills for him to introduce in the Senate of the United States. The minutes of a meeting of the Executive Committee, on October 3, 1921, record that Senator Borah asked, through Albert DeSilver (among whose other activities was that of being treasurer of the I.W.W. Defense Fund) that the Union draft bills repealing title 12 of the Espionage Act, under which the postal authorities still censored the mail. Included also were to be amendments to that section of the obscenity statute which would eliminate the words "tending to murder, arson and assassination" under the "indecent" definition. The minutes of the following meeting, on October 10, show that DeSilver reported that the two bills had been prepared and forwarded to the Senator. In the minutes of the April 17, 1922 meeting, we read: "The material for Senator Borah has been submitted to him and it is expected he will make his speech to the Senate in a comparatively few days." On May 1 it was reported Senator Borah was still contemplating his speech.

Complaint has frequently been made that the American Civil Liberties Union is never exercised about predicaments in which poor men, who are not radicals, find themselves. Their interests and activities are always, without exception, in behalf of law-breakers of the radical criminal class. A survey of the National Committee of this Union shows at once that practically the entire membership is made up of radicals of one stripe or another. They solicit funds from every class, exactly as do the Communists, to be devoted to the defence or other assistance of criminals, never to aid a man who steals a loaf of bread for himself or his hungry family or who commits a crime of this nature. Of course in soliciting funds from the public it does not always admit that the money is to be thus used; many people contribute with the hazy idea of uplifting the down-trodden. This Union busily sought aid for those of its own members and others who, caught in the Bridgman raid, were actually engaged in a criminal conspiracy against the United States Government.

That the people who are directing the functions of the American Civil Liberties Union have been looked upon for some time as not only radicals but also in some cases as Bolsheviks is well known. Felix Frankfurter, one of the shining lights of the Union, as has been seen, once drew down upon himself a most scathing arraignment when he, as counsel for President Wilson's Mediation Commission in the Mooney case, had the temerity to attempt to interest Theodore Roosevelt in the work he was doing. Ex-President Roosevelt's Americanism has never been questioned by friend or foe; his loyalty to Harvard, where Frankfurter has long been teaching, was famous among the students and alumni, and he bluntly compared Frankfurter to Trotsky and found little difference.

Allusion is here made to Roosevelt's letter to Frankfurter, quoted in a previous chapter, because of the former President's expression of opinion in regard to the I.W.W., the Mooney and Billings cases, and similar individuals and organizations; in the cases mentioned the American Civil Liberties Union was particularly active, in an effort to prevent the criminals from paying the penalties imposed by the courts of the country for the crimes committed. It was also exercised over the predicaments of Communists in various parts of the country who were sentenced under the anti-syndicalist laws of different States; and it is not infrequent to find notation in the minutes of their meetings that appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States will be taken in an effort to save the radicals convicted of conspiracy to overthrow by violence the Government of the United States.

The activities of the Union, however, do not stop with trying to aid Communists and other radicals and criminals after they have been convicted of crimes, but it conducts political campaigns in various States in an effort to bring about the repeal of laws enacted to protect the Government from conspiracies directed from Moscow, and it provides money for the Communists with which the anti-American fight may be conducted. The minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held May 8, 1922, show the following entry:

"An application from the National Defense Committee for a loan of $500 for ninety days was noted, and was referred to Mr. Baldwin to negotiate on his personal responsibility with the general approval of the Committee."

It is interesting to note that this National Defense Committee is wholly Communist, controlled from Moscow, one of the many "legal" organizations doing the work of the secret Communist party of America. Its membership is entirely of Communists, most, if not all, of them in attendance on the illegal, underground Communist convention at Bridgman. This committee was made up of Max Bedacht, J.E. Ferguson, L.E. Katterfield, Edgar Owens and C.E. Rutherberg. And this is the organization for which the American Civil Liberties Union authorized the negotiation of a loan "with the full approval" of the Executive Committee.

The chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union is Harry F. Ward, the preacher whose utterances in the Methodist Textbook on radicalism caused a scandal. He was formerly connected with the Boston School of Theology, is a teacher of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and has been a leading factor in the Interchurch World Movement and the Federated Council of Churches of Christ in America. His sympathy and cooperation with Socialists, I.W.W., radical and other anti-American movements have been notable. He was a pacifist during the war, and practically all of his associates in the organization have records as pacifists and defeatists in those troublesome days, some of whom were imprisoned for their refusal to fight when the United States was at war or for endeavoring to bring about the defeat of this country by actively aiding the enemy.

Ward's activities are best illustrated by citing a letter which was given out by the American Civil Liberties Union in April, 1922, and which was addressed to Congressman Martin B. Madden, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. In this, he attempted to influence Congressman Madden for the purpose of securing a cut in the appropriations intended for the use of that executive branch of the Government which have most to do with the suppression of revolutionary radicalism and emphasizing the specious claim that at that time radicalism was on the wane. Ward's letter contained the following:

"Radical activities in the United States have greatly decreased since 1919. . . . The underground propaganda . . . is obviously that conducted by the Communists in the United States. The fact that propaganda is underground is due entirely to the repressive measures directed against it. . . . The Soviet government is not responsible for this propaganda. It is a part of the international, revolutionary, working-class movement affiliated with one or another of the international bodies which express its programs and purposes."

As has been stated, the American Civil Liberties Union, a part of the open, legal machinery of the Communist party of America, and of which Ward is an official, is the central organization for the defense of radicals and Communists. Unquestionably, its files contain large quantities of information concerning the radical movement, as to gather such information is a part of its appointed function. In 1922, every independent investigating agency in the United States had arrived at an opinion quite the opposite from that expressed in this letter to Congressman Madden. The conclusion is forced that Ward's opinion was formulated as a result of a desire to cripple the defense mechanism of the Government in its fight against revolution either by violence or legislation, and to protect the activities of those who were his associates.

Ward's statement as to responsibility for Communist propaganda in this country sounds puerile in view of the recent controversy between Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes and Steklov (1923), the speech of Senator Lodge in the Senate (Jan. 1924), or the Senatorial investigation into Moscow propaganda in the United States (1924). It stamps him as one whose assumed leadership is defective in that he is either unacquainted with the conditions which he assumes to know most about or in that he has a conscious objective in misinterpretation of facts.

The American Civil Liberties Union owes its existence to the notorious pacifist organizations of war-time fame, which were presumably financed by German agents in this country working desperately, and for a time successfully, to keep the United States from entering the war. To be sure, in its present form it has existed only since January 12, 1920, when it was formed as an outgrowth and with the merging of various organizations which were developed during the World War, dating from October, 1914, and the members of which were pacifists, defeatists, German agents, radicals of many hues, Communists, I.W.W. and Socialists. Among the organizations included in the merger were such pacifist bodies as the American League to Limit Armaments, Emergency Peace Federation, First American Conference for Democracy and Terms of Peace, People's Freedom Union, People's Council of America, American Union Against Militarism, League for Amnesty for Political Prisoners, Civil Liberties Bureau, National Civil Liberties Bureau, American Neutral Conference Committee, and Legal First Aid Bureau.

Of these—and there were others of less importance but with equally impressive names designed to fool patriotic Americans and lend aid to the enemy—the Emergency Peace Federation was organized in Chicago in October, 1914, by Rosika Schwimmer, an Austrian Jewess by birth, of Ford Peace Ship fame, who is now in the United States on a lecture tour, and Louis P. Lochner, a Socialist of German descent and sympathies, who is now the Berlin representative of the Federated Press regarded by the Communist party as its official publicity organization. Two months later the American League to Limit Armaments was organized in New York by the same persons, for the purpose of combating militarism and the spreading of the militaristic spirit in the United States, obviously an effort to prevent this Government from entering the war against Germany.

Associated with these pro-German agents in the organization of these anti-American bodies were; Mrs. Patrick Lawrence of England, Jane Addams, Rev. John H. Holmes, David Starr Jordan, Dr. Jacques Loeb, Dr. George W. Nasmyth, George F. Peabody, Oswald G. Villard, Morris Hillquit (Hilkowicz), Hamilton Holt, Elsie Parsons, Lillian D. Wald, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and L. Hollingsworth Wood.

The gradual evolution of the various anti-war and other subversive organizations into the American Civil Liberties Union brought quick results. Radicals of every stripe found a haven in this body, each where he could help his particular friends who were in trouble because of infractions of the laws of the country. Soon after the formation of the Union we find the names of Amos Pinchot, brother of Governor Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania, as vice-chairman, and Scott Nearing and Max Eastman on the Executive Committee. And in the two years of its existence it. has been used by all radicals to fight the existing Government of the United States. The rallying cry of "free speech and free press" brought many well-intentioned people into its ranks and hundreds of others to place their names on the lists of contributors. The difference between free speech and the conspiracy to overthrow the Government is not drawn by the leaders of the movement. Freedom to them means the license of treason and sedition. Zacharia Chaffee, colleague at Harvard of Felix Frankfurter, writes, preaches and presumably teaches that there should be no law against anarchy or sedition.

The directors of the American Civil Liberties Union hold that citizenship papers should not be refused an alien because of his radicalism, no matter of what degree. They profess to believe that no persons should be refused admission to the United States, especially radicals, and that aliens should not be deported for expression of opinion or for membership in radical or even revolutionary organizations, even if they aim at the destruction of the Government and social system of the United States.

The methods to be employed in securing civil liberties by this Union, they contend, is through maintaining an aggressive policy. This can be obtained by unions of organized labor, farmers, radical and liberal movements, free speech demonstrations (as they interpret free speech), publicity through circulars and posters, but more particularly through personal influence with editors or subordinates on reputable newspapers, which is also their chief means of spreading subversive propaganda, and legal defence work. Thus the Union creates in the minds of Communists, Anarchists and all classes of radicals the idea that it is improper for anyone to interfere with their activities aimed at the destruction of American institutions.

Tbe activities of this organization are extensive. It assists any radical movement through publications of high standing in order to influence public sympathy toward the radical organizations, furnishing attorneys for radical criminals, conscientious objectors and radical or foreign spies, "bores from within" in churches, religious and labor organizations. Women's Clubs, schools and colleges and the American Federation of Labor, in order to spread; radical ideas. The union maintains a staff of speakers, investigators and lawyers who are working in all sections of the country. Lawyers are furnished on short notice wherever a radical criminal gets into trouble. A press clipping service is maintained which keeps the organization in close touch with every radical criminal or group of radical criminals in trouble and immediate financial aid, publicity and counsel is offered. Aiding in this service are some 800 cooperating lawyers, and more than a thousand correspondents and investigators, representing 450 weekly labor, farmer and liberal papers with 420 speakers and writers.

The American Civil Liberties Union was particularly active in aiding the Communists caught in the Bridgman, Michigan, raid. It was active in behalf of trouble makers in connection with, and prominently identified with the coal and railroad strikes, the Amalgamated Textile Worker's strike in Passaic, N.J., the National Committee for organizing Iron and Steel Workers in Duquesne, PA., the Socialist party at Mt. Vernon, N.Y., and in fighting the State Supreme Court's rulings on free speech during 1920, and the Sacco-Vanzetti defense in 1921. An office is maintained in Washington with the Federated Press organization to handle matter requiring direct contact with the Government. A special drive was engineered and directed by the Union seeking amnesty for so-called "political" and industrial prisoners, people who had been duly convicted of crime against the laws of the country. The organization established branch offices and bodies were formed under other names. It maintains separate funds such as an "amnesty fund" and an "I.W.W. Publicity Fund."

In addition to the regular services already furnished, an extra program was put forth upon which special efforts were devoted. This program included: amnesty for 150 "political prisoners" of whom 103 were members of the I.W.W.; test meetings as a basis for getting laws before the courts on the question of free speech; a special campaign against the American Legion and the Ku KIux Klan; completing studies on injunctions and advising tactics for labor organizations; a campaign in schools and colleges for "academic freedom"; and further development of the National Bill Fund to reach all defendants in "civil liberty" cases. The policies of the organization are determined by the National Committee and the carrying out of them is left to the Executive Committee which meets weekly. Rose Pastor Stokes, a delegate at the illegal Communist convention at Bridgman, is in close contact and at times sits with this executive committee.

The Harvard Liberal Club, the I.W.W., the World War Veterans and many local "defense leagues" and "civil liberty" organizations are affiliated with the union. The directors of the union, who are members of the executive committee, are Roger N. Baldwin and Albert DeSilver. Baldwin has stated, in setting forth the purposes and principles of the Union, that "the advocacy of murder, unaccompanied by any act, is within the legitimate scope of free speech." And in telling the position of the members of the organization, he says:

"All of them believe in the right of persons to advocate the overthrow of government by force and violence. We want to, also, look like patriots in everything we do. We want to get a lot of good flags, talk a good deal about the Constitution and what our forefathers wanted to make of this country, and to show that we are the fellows that really stand for the spirit of our institutions."

It should not be forgotten that Baldwin refused to fight for the United States during the war and was sentenced and served time for "slacking." The above was the advice given by Baldwin to Louis P. Lochner, representative of the communistic Federated Press in Berlin, in reference to the methods to be employed in carrying out the propaganda of the People's Council which was organized to imitate in this country the Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils of Soviet Russia. And it is evident that these people see no crime in the advocacy of crime alone, even when that crime reaches the stage of treason and sedition.

The following paragraphs from the 1920 Lusk Committee report concerning the American Civil Liberties Union, will prove interesting at this point:

"An examination, however, of the propaganda and agitation which has been carried on in favor of the forceful overthrow of this Government shows that it does not consist of a mere expression of opinion, but invariably advocates measures for its effectuation. In other words, the representatives of revolutionary Socialists, Communists, Anarchists and other groups, state that by doing certain acts this Government may be overthrown and in each instance the agitator urges his hearers or his readers to commit those acts. It is a well settled principle of law that any reasonable man is responsible for the logical and reasonable consequences of his acts and utterances.

"While the Constitution of the State of New York guarantees the right of free speech it also contains the warning that the citizen may exercise it 'being responsible for the abuse of that right.' The effect of the activities of the American Civil Liberties Union is to create in the minds of the ill-informed people the impression that it is un-American to interfere with the activities of those who seek to destroy American institutions. They seek to influence legislators and executives to repeal or veto any act calculated to protect the State or the Federal Government from the attacks of agitators.

"It is interesting to note that the anxiety of the American Civil Liberties Union is shown only where the abuse of free speech is called in question because of attacks upon property or Government. The committee does not find anything in their literature which seeks to prevent a man from being punished because of libel or slander or because of licentious or immoral speech or writing. These writings or utterances are penalized under our institutions because they are deemed to be abuses of the right of free speech end that they will tend to destroy the reputation of an individual or they will tend to corrupt public morals. If the principles set forth in the 'Statement of Civil Liberty' . . . were carried into effect, libel, slander and immoral or lewd writings and speech could not be punished,"

After some further analysis this report says:


The union is closely identified with groups in practically every city in the country known as "parlor Bolsheviki." Speakers are furnished for these dilettante radicals whose influence would amount to little but for the fact that they can be counted upon for financial contributions to any movement that promises them a thrill. It has been said that many idle men and women become identified with this parlor Bolshevik movement through emotionalism and because it gives them something to think about. Whatever the reason, the Communists and the Civil Liberties Union agitators make use of these groups for financial aid and as means of spreading propaganda.

Just at present the Workers' party of America is receiving the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, and through that organization the aid of the parlor Bolsheviki. The Workers' party being the "legal expression" in politics of the Communist party of America, and its standard-bearer in New York, William F. Dunne, being charged with criminal conspiracy for his participation in the illegal Bridgman Communist convention, the party is having a hard row to hoe. Among other attempted activities at this time is an appeal for funds from any source.

The Workers' party as a branch of the Communist party, has access to the "sucker lists" of people who have contributed to the finances of the party in various cities, and, besides has "sucker lists" of its own which are shared with the Communists, The most remarkable feature of these lists is the number of names of prominent people upon them. For instance, the list for Philadelphia, which the Workers' party has for use on the ground that the people have contributed to the funds of the Workers'' party (and of course the information is dutifully passed on to the Communists) contains approximately two hundred names, almost all of them well-known people. The name of Mrs. Gifford Pinchot, wife of the Governor, of Pennsylvania, is the seventh name on the list, which also contains the names of at least six members of the well-known and wealthy Biddle family. It is not intended even to insinuate that these people knew that they were contributing, if they did contribute, to the finances of an organization the chief aim of which was the overthrow by violence of the United States Government; they have undoubtedly contributed frequently to causes which they were told were for the uplift of the down-trodden or the bettering of the conditions of the working class. Thousands of Americans in other cities have, by contributing to similar funds, placed their names on similar lists.

W.W. Weinstone, executive secretary of the Workers' party of America in New York, was in hiding for some months after the Bridgman Convention was raided, and this had embarrassed the party, especially with Dunne, the leader, in jail, or out on bond. However, Weinstone, who is a known Communist, still sent out orders for the campaign from his hiding-place. The party had difficulties in obtaining signatures to get the candidates on the ballot, as the membership, dismayed by the publicity attending the connection of the party with the illegal Communist party, was unwilling to furnish the signatures to the petitions. They were, therefore, compelled to pay men to do this work and, by order of E. Lindgren, who was held by the State of New York for extradition to Michigan charged with having participated in the illegal Bridgman Communist Convention, were asking members for funds to get the paid solicitors busy. This is where the "sucker lists" prove their worth. The apprehension felt by Weinstone, in his hiding place, was indicated by the following letter which he sent out under date of September 25, 1922:

"To All Branches of the Workers' Party Local, Greater New York.

"Dear Comrades: Our party organization, for obvious reasons, has thus far failed to function effectively in the campaign. So far as getting signatures on the petitions is concerned we have fallen down miserably.

"This means that if we depend upon our party membership to get sufficient signatures to place our candidates on the ballot, our party will not be on the ballot. If we do not get on the ballot, it will be a great blow to us.

"We must under all circumstances get a place on the ballot for our party. And since we shall not be on the ballot, if we depend upon the party membership we are compelled to pay people who will get signatures for us.

"A few thousand dollars is necessary immediately. We must raise that money at all costs. The City Central Committee passed a motion to the effect that every branch must contribue a sum of money for the campaign equal to fifty cents per member. If a branch has thirty members it must send in to the Local Office, $15; if it has forty members it must give $20, etc., etc.

"Comrades—this matter cannot be delayed.

"Hurry Comrades—by October 6th the Local must raise one thousand dollars for the campaign. Send in the money immediately.

"Let us get on the ballot and begin a real campaign.


W. W. Weinstone, Executive Secretary.

"P. S.—Branch Organizers. The leaflets for the Ratification Meeting of Sept. 29th are ready. Come down and get them. Get some comrades to distribute them"

The Communist International at Moscow had originally planned to have the Communist party of America make every effort to secure the election to Congress and to other offices of persons friendly toward Soviet Russia, and for this purpose promised to give the organization in this country a quarter of a million dollars for a campaign fund. But the inaction of candidates in whom they had placed confidence and the casual activities of others, made the Moscow Reds, plotting on the internal politics of the United States and with an organ to carry out their plots, lose confidence and they decided to withhold this fund at least until "the goods have been delivered."

Information reached the Communists of America that Moscow officials were particularly indignant at the action of Senator France, of Maryland, in introducing legislation to have the United States transfer six steamers to Poland and the Moscow people said that this action showed that Russia could not depend upon such friends. When the Communist International was informed of this state of affairs it abandoned its original plan and instructed the party here to exert all its efforts in using the elections for propaganda purposes. The Communist International, however, did appropriate 830,000 for the conduct of the election campaign by the Communist party through the Workers' party of America.