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January 15, 1920

Eighty-five members of the Vassar faculty joined the Poughkeepsie Trade and Labor Council in sending letters to the New York State Assembly protesting the ouster of five duly elected Socialist members on charges of “disloyalty.” During a period of international anxiety about a “rising tide” of socialism, the ensuing judiciary hearings and the final decision—a four-to-one vote on April 2 expelling the assemblymen—aroused varied comment: a17-year-old Brooklyn girl testified that she’d seen one of the men spit on the American flag, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt vehemently supported the men and New York Board of Aldermen President Fiorello LaGuardia succinctly advised, “seat them or shoot them.”

The Years