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The Reconstruction Amendments and Their Legacy
Primary Sources

Theme: American Political Thought: The Constitution and American Democratic Institutions
Topic: The Reconstruction Amendments and Their Legacy
Date: January 2006

Primary Sources from Partner Collections | Political Cartoons | Documents- Reconstruction Amendments - Salem State Censorship (1969) |

Primary Sources from Local Archives and Collections

Additional Primary Sources Used in Content and Follow-up Sessions

Selections and annotations by SALEM in History staff


Primary Sources from Partner Collections

Political Cartoons


John L. Magee. The Man that blocks up the highway, 1866. Lithograph. Philadelphia: Printed by J.L. Magee. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Card Catalog # 741.973 / M191.2

This political cartoon comments on the dissatisfaction with President Johnson (depicted with an ass's ears) and his Reconstruction politics.

Transcripts of the characters' comments with historical context are provided. (Click here.)

Andreu Del., “Scent to the legislature,” 1867.  Lithograph.  Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Card Catalog # 741.973 / A561

The text below the title reads: "Gem’plemen, I’se wid’ you!" This political cartoon attacks the presence of African Americans in the Legislature.

Documents

Ratification of the Reconstruction Amendments

 

Baldwin, J.D.  "Human Rights and Human Races." Speech in the House of Representatives January 11, 1868 in reply to a speech of James Brooks on the negro race. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum. [excerpt]

The Right Way was a reconstruction newspaper edited by former Salem Normal School president Alpheus Crosby. The newspaper, published weekly from 1865 to 1867, ran reprints of Congressional debates, activities by anti-slavery organizations, accounts of lynching, poetry, editorials and other articles advocating for the rights of freed slaves.

“Is Slavery Dead?” The Right Way, 10 March 1866, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This poem, written for The Right Way, called on the federal government to take action to protect the freed slaves. Written after the 13th Amendment, one stanza reads: For, while the letter gives / Freedom and hope and blessing to the slave, / And joyful paeans ring, and banners wave, / The vile slave-spirit lives.

“Most Imminent Danger” and “Shall the Amendment be Rejected?” The Right Way, 29 December 1866, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

These two articles addressed the issue of whether Congress should agree to accept the rebel states back into the union if they ratify the pending 14th Amendment. The unnamed author argued that the southern states cannot be trusted to abide by the spirit and the letter of the laws.

“A Constitutional Question,” The Right Way, 12 January 1867, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This article, reprinted from the N.Y. Independent, asked whether the former rebel states should be involved in the amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Board of Regents v. Roth (1972): The Issue of Tenure at Salem State College

In the following articles, SSC students and faculty debate the value of academic tenure, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Editorial: “Tenure Means Mediocrity for SSC!” The Log, 11 April 1972, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This editorial in the college newspaper argued that tenure should be abolished at Salem State College. Although Board of Regents v. Roth was not mentioned, it was likely the inspiration for the editorial.

Letter to the Editor: “Response to Faculty Tenure,” The Log, 18 April 1972, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This letter to the editor was written by professor Gerald R. Tatten in response to the April 11 editorial. In it, Tatten makes reference to the recent Supreme Court decision and tenure is important for academic freedom.

Editorial: “Tenure Change Needed,” The Log, 18 April 1972, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This follow-up to the previous editorial asked that the tenure system at SSC be modified, rather than abolished.

 

Local Study of the Incorporation of the 14th Amendment: The Log Censorship Controversy & Freedom of the Press

 

Background Information

During the fall semester of 1969, the student newspaper at Fitchburg State College was censored for printing an article by Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver entitled “Black Moochie,” which some considered obscene. The editors of the Salem State College newspaper, The Log, decided to publish the article in solidarity with their colleagues at Fitchburg State. Salem State College president Frederick A. Meier found out about the editors’ plans and revoked funding for the October 10 issue of The Log, which was to contain the article.

The controversy made the front page of national newspapers, including the New York Times. Fitchburg State College student editors filed a lawsuit against the college, charging that the censorship was a violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments. The case, Antonelli v. Hammond, made it to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, which decided in favor of the students. In the decision, the judge cited the Near v. Minnesota (1931) Supreme Court case which interpreted the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment as requiring states to abide by the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press.

There were three particular groups that were involved in the controversy at Salem State College:

  1. The Log editors, including Maureen Sullivan (editor-in-chief), who died suddenly in the middle of the controversy, and Helen Auchterlonie (news editor).
  2. Frederick A. Meier, president of Salem State College.
  3. College Publication Board, comprised of student editors, faculty advisors and representatives from the Student Association, Faculty Senate and the college administration.

Many of the documents that follow reflect their perspectives on the events of that fall.

Sources:

Near v. Minnesota, Supreme Court of the United States, 283 U.S. 697, June 1, 1931, [edited opinion of the court]. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/near.html. Accessed 1/3/06.

Jay Near was the publisher of a local newspaper that criticized public officials in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The county attorney obtained an injunction to stop the publication of the newspaper, under a Minnesota law that prohibited the publication of “obscene, lewd and lascivious” or “malicious, scandalous and defamatory” material. Near appealed the injunction and the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1931, the U.S. Supreme Court found in his favor, giving the opinion that the Minnesota law was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes wrote, in part, “Liberty of the press, and of speech, is within the liberty safeguarded by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state action.” This case helped set the precedent that neither the state nor federal government could censor the press. This document, from the University of Minnesota Law School website, is an edited version of the opinion given by the U.S. Supreme Court in Near v. Minnesota (1931).

Helen Auchterlonie, “CYCLE Protests Censorship,” The Log, 3 October 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This is the first article in the Salem State College student newspaper, The Log, mentioning the censorship controversy at Fitchburg State College. The president at Fitchburg refused to authorize payment for the publication of an issue of the student newspaper, The CYCLE, which was to contain an article the president considered obscene.

Frederick A. Meier to “The College Community at Salem State College,” TLS [typewritten letter signed], 9 October 1969, Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

In this letter to the college community, Salem State College president Frederick A. Meier explained why he refused to pay for the publication of the issue of The Log which contained an article written by Eldridge Cleaver that he considered obscene. Meier argued that since The Log was funded through student activity fees and the president is “charged with the legal administration of the State funds in question,” he had the authority and responsibility to require the newspaper to “maintain an ethical code which reflects an adherence to the canons of good journalism” and not publish an issue “which carries obscenities.”

James Murphy to Frederick A. Meier, TL [typewritten letter] copy, 14 October 1969, Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

In this letter, the chairman of the SSC College Publications Board notified President Frederick A. Meier that the board voted to censure Meier at their meeting on October 10, in response to his decision not to pay for the October 10 issue of The Log. The board passed the motion stating that “This arbitrary action violates the constitution of the College Publications Board… and the rights of the college community.”

[Front page], The Log, 14 October 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This edition of The Log was the first of two issues published without the financial support of the college and in violation of President Meier’s instructions not to publish the Cleaver article. The article in question, an excerpt from Eldridge Cleaver’s novella The Black Moochie, was published on the front page. An editorial on page two outlines the student editors’ objections to what they view as censorship of the newspaper.

Paul Idecker, “CYCLE Shut Down,” The Log, 14 October 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This article indicated that the editors of The Log were in sympathy with the editors of the Fitchburg State College newspaper.

Paul Kerwin, “Censoring Protested,” The Log, 14 October 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

On October 5, a group of college newspaper editors met to discuss the controversy surrounding The CYCLE and decided that they would protest the censorship of the Fitchburg State College newspaper.

Frederick A. Meier to James Murphy, TLS, 15 October 1969, Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This letter is President Meier’s response to College Publication Board chair James Murphy’s letter of October 10. In it, Meier reiterated his intent to withhold funds for publication of The Log until the editors agree to hold to the standards of good journalism.

The Analog, 21 October 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

During the censorship controversy, SSC Biology Professor James B. Schooley published one issue of a mock-newspaper, The Analog. The newspaper contained exactly one article: a call to the SSC campus to organize a newspaper that would be “dedicated to tolerance for enlightened opinions.”

Salem State College Publications Board, “Report on The Log Controversy,” TD [typewritten document], [ca. 4 November 1969], Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This report narrates the newspaper controversy from the perspective of the SSC Publications Board. It includes copies of letters between the board, President Meier and the newspaper’s printer. It also includes a list of the members of the SSC Publications Board, The Log’s Policy Statement, and other related documents.

Jack Kelley, “Sit-in at Salem State College,” Boston Herald Traveller, [ca. 5 November 1969], Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

The Boston Herald Traveller covered two protests by SSC students of the censorship of The Log.

The Independent Log, 7 November 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This, the second issue of The Log published independently, announced the sudden death of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, the resignation of SSC President Meier, and an update on the status of other student newspapers that published the Cleaver article.

Frederick A. Meier to “The College Community,” TL, 24 November 1969, Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

In this memo, President Meier outlines the agreement between himself, The Log and the College Publications Board to resume publication of the student newspaper.

Robert Reinhold, “Campus Editors Say What They Think,” New York Times, 2 December 1969, Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This front-page New York Times article about censorship at college newspapers featured the story about the controversy surrounding publication of The Log.

“We’re Back Again!” The Log, 12 December 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

According to this December 12 article, “The six week LOG controversy was ended on November 21, when President Meier signed the three-point agreement that the College Publications Board had sent him originally,” and the newspaper resumed a normal publication schedule.

“Supreme Court Sets the Standard/What is Obscenity?” The Log, 12 December 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This article from The Log asked how the Supreme Court defined obscenity, citing two Supreme Court cases: U.S. v. Ulysses (1933) and Roth v. United States (1954).

Nancy Tulowieck, “’…the article and the words are dangerous to them.’” The Log, 12 December 1969, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

Student reporter Nancy Tulowieck interviewed SSC psychology department chair Dr. Richard LeBel about why he thought the Cleaver article caused such controversy.

Antonelli v. Hammond, U.S. District Court/District of Massachusetts, Civil Action No. 69-1128-G, February 7, 1970 [opinion of the court].

Fitchburg State College student John Antonelli filed suit in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts accusing college president James J. Hammond of censoring the student newspaper, The Cycle. The censorship issue revolved around the publication of the article “Black Moochie” in The Cycle. Antonelli claimed that this was a violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Garrity found in favor of the student, issuing the opinion that the president’s refusal to pay for the publication of that particular issue of The Cycle constituted “direct previous restraint of expression” and cited the decision in Near v. Minnesota (1931) that “…Liberty of the press…has meant…immunity from previous restraints or censorship.” In other words, it was the opinion of the court that it was unconstitutional for the college president to censor the newspaper prior to publication. The court opinion also gave an outline of the events leading to the court case and cited a number of other cases relevant to freedom of the press.

Frederick A. Meier to [the Salem State College community],  TSL, 18 March 1970, Vertical Files: The Log, Salem State College Archives, Salem, MA.

This letter was written by President Meier in response to the decision of Antonelli v. Hammond. In it he wrote that he believed that “Judge Garrity’s decision in the Fitchburg State College case has been one giant step backward in the cause of higher education.”

 


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Primary Sources from Local Archives and Collections

 
 

"Louisiana's Separate Car Law." New York Times. 19 May 1896.

The Supreme Court announced its ruling on May 18 in the Plessy v. Ferguson caes. The article notes that Justice Brown read the prevailing opinion, and taht Justice Harlan put forth a "very vigorous dissent." The NYT did not present a particular point of view on the ruling.

This article is available on microfilm at the Salem Public Library.

"Heated Hot. Supreme Court Decision is Denounced. Colored League Indignant at Action on 'Jim Crow Car' Law. One is Teaching his Children to Speak Spanish. 'United States is no Place for Black Men.' 'South Will receive Pay for Slaves Freed by War." Boston Daily Globe. 20 May 1896.

This article covers a meeting held at the "Colored National League" regarding the Supreme Court decision in Plessy V. Ferguson. Participants' shock, dismay, and a call to action are quoted.

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Additional Primary Sources Used in Content and Follow-up Sessions

 

 

Golden, Daniel. "Separate but equal? Schooling evacuees sparks debate" The Wall Street Journal. 14 September 2005. Online at: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05257/571393.stm (19 January 2006).

 

 

McKenzie, Jamie. Crib Death, 2005. NoChildLeft.com. Online at: http://www.nochildleft.com/cartoon38.html (19 January 2006).

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