imprisoning schappes

English instructor Morris Schappes, the most visible Communist at CCNY and a charter member of the Anti-Fascist Association, admits at his Rapp-Courdert public hearing on March 6, 1941, that he had been a Communist Party member. When the committee demands that he name other members, Schappes claims that there had been only four others at CCNY; three of whom were killed in the Spanish Civil War, and one has left the college. The committee knows he is lying because of the testimony of friendly witnesses and instructs Manhattan DA Thomas Dewey (later the 1948 Republican presidential candidate) to prosecute Schappes for perjury. Schappes is arrested and sentenced to up to two years in prison, and remains in prison for thirteen months.

schappesatdesk "As a teacher, of course, I have never tried to use the classroom as an agency for conversion. I conceive my task rather as that of developing the student, not indoctrinating him, of helping him to stand on his own feet intellectually, to think for himself scientifically and to draw his own conclusions on the basis of his own findings and interests.”

-Morris Schappes statement to the press before his public testimony on March 6, 1941

hugogellert Morris Schappes being arrested on March 18, 1941.

schappesbutton Logo of the Schappes Defense Committee.

morrisuschappes The Defense Committee is established to fight for the release of Morris Schappes.

tombscover “Many of our officials believe that they are protecting civilization when they imprison a man for thinking in ‘a certain way,’ but they are not protecting their civilization. Instead they are destroying its very foundations.”

Richard Wright, foreword to Schappes, Letters from the Tombs, 1941.

tombs2 Schappes looks out his prison window at protests against his imprisonment.

tombs1 Schappes talks with other prisoners.