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May 5, 1920

Led by history professor Louise Fargo Brown, 20 seniors went to Albany to protest the “Lusk bills,” two bills introduced by Senator Clayton Lusk and passed by the State Legislature requiring certification of loyalty to “the institutions and laws” of the country from teachers in public schools and empowering the state board of regents to revoke the accreditation of any private school whose teachings were “detrimental to the public interest.” Primarily aimed at socialist and communist “infiltration,” the laws were called “pernicious” by Brown’s colleague in the history department Lucy Maynard Salmon, “because they put a premium on the concealment of ideas.”

New York Governor Alfred E. Smith vetoed these measures along with four similar bills on May 19, declaring that the teacher certification bill “deprives teachers of their right to freedom of thought. It limits the teaching staff of the public schools to those only who lack courage or the mind to exercise their legal right to just criticism of existing institutions.”

The New York Times

The Years