Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union

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Columbia University Press, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 504 pages

Roger Nash Baldwin's thirty-year tenure as director of the ACLU marked the period when the modern understanding of the Bill of Rights came into being. Spearheaded by Baldwin, volunteer attorneys of the caliber of Clarence Darrow, Arthur Garfield Hays, Osmond Frankel, and Edward Ennis transformed the constitutional landscape. Company police forces were dismantled. Antievolutionists were discredited (thanks to the Scopes Trial). Censorship of such works as James Joyce's Ulysses was halted. The Scottsboro Boys and Sacco and Vanzetti were defended. The right of free speech for communists and Ku Klux Klansmen alike was upheld, and the foundations were laid for an end to school segregation.

Robert Cottrell's magnificent book recaptures the accomplishments and contradictions of the complicated man at the center of these events. Driven, vain, frugal, and tempestuous, America's greatest civil libertarian was initially also a staunch defender of Communist Russia, deferred to the U.S. government over the internment of Japanese Americans, and openly admired J. Edgar Hoover and Douglas MacArthur. His personal relationships were equally complex. Spanning a hundred years from the late 1800s through Baldwin's death in 1981, this riveting biography is an eye-opening view of the development of the American left.

 

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Contents

Growing Up in Wellesley Hills
1
The Inevitable Harvard and Beyond
13
The Progressive as Social Worker
22
The Civic League
36
Early Civil Liberties Career
46
The National Civil Liberties Bureau
61
The United States v Roger Baldwin
80
Prison Life
91
Free Speech and the Class Struggle
199
From the United Front to the Popular Front
215
The Home Front
237
Controversies on the Path from Fellow Traveling to Anticommunism
255
Civil Liberties During World War II
278
Quite a Dysfunctional Family
299
A Very Public Retirement in the Age of Anticommunism
325
A Man of Contradictions
343

An Unconventional Marriage
103
The American Civil Liberties Union
119
The ACLU Under Suspicion
135
Turning to the Courts
151
International Human Rights
169
A European Sabbatical
183
The Public Image
368
NOTES
393
COLLECTIONS ORAL HISTORIES AND INTERVIEWS
459
SUBJECT INDEX
481
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Robert Cottrell is professor of history and American studies at California State University, Chico. He has written numerous books and articles on American liberalism, reform, and radicalism in the twentieth century, including Izzy: A Biography of I. F. Stone.

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