1917 March 6

Columbia University to Investigate “Loyalty” of Faculty


With a Declaration of War that would take the United States into the war in Europe just a month away (April 6, 1917), a wave of patriotic fever swept over the country, resulting in massive abuses of civil liberties. Colleges and universities were not exempt, and Columbia University had one of the worst records (although it may be because we simply know more by virtue of its being in New York City). On this day, the university announced that it would begin to investigate the “loyalty” of its faculty.

During World War I, any criticism of the war was regarded as disloyalty. As a result of their investigation, the university fired two prominent faculty members, on October 1, 1917. The famed historian Charles A. Beard resigned in protest of the firings on October 9, 1917.

Learn more: Carol Gruber, Mars and Minerva: World War I and the Uses of the Higher Learning in America (1975)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!