bertrand russell

bertrandrussell In 1940, Bertrand Russell, the world-renowned philosopher, is offered a professorship at CCNY by the NYC Board of Higher Education. Conservative and religious leaders campaign against Russell’s appointment on the grounds that he supports sexual freedom. One Brooklyn family files a lawsuit alleging that Russell’s presence on campus might corrupt the sexual morality of their young daughter, should she attend CCNY. When the family prevails in court, Mayor LaGuardia withdraws funding for the position.

“...the basic fact remains that, if the jurisdiction of the court is upheld, a blow has been struck at the security and intellectual independence of every faculty member in every public college and university in the United States. Its potential consequences are incalculable.”

--Howard Woodburn Chase, Chancellor, NYU (Quote from a letter in The New York Times, April 20, 1940).


raphaelcohen "The citizens of New York are facing a grave and momentous issue. Shall the higher education of our youth remain in the hands of competent and properly trained educators, or shall the appointment and removal of professors be controlled by popular clamor of the ignorant?"

-- Professor Morris Raphael Cohen, distinguished CCNY Philosophy Professor, in a statement on March 13, 1940. Quotation cited in Weidlich, Appointment Denied: The Inquisition of Bertrand Russell, 2000

bishopmanning Bishop William Manning of the Episcopal Church of New York spearheads religious opposition to Russell’s appointment.

russellstudentprotest Students circulate a petition in support of Russell.

bertrandrussellcartoonCaricature of Bertrand Russell with a flag of academic freedom is hiding his thoughts on free love and communism behind his book on math and logic.