1951. Princeton, May 5, 1951.
2 pages, 278 x 214 mm on his embossed Mercer Street stationery with the original transmittal envelope. Signed "A. Einstein" in black ink. In fine condition. [With] 12 pp. information pamphlet published by the Federation for the Repeal of the Levering Act in 1950, creased vertically but very good.
§ An interesting letter, written during the height of McCarthyism, in which Einstein declines to support a San Francisco civil liberties organization due to his wider pacifist philosophy. In the letter, a 72-year-old Einstein declines a request from Eason Monroe, chairman of the Federation for Repeal of the Levering Act in San Francisco, CA, to be a sponsor of the organization:
"...Your organization fights a symptom and not the disease. The disease is embodied in the militaristic-aggressive attitude, on whatever basis - fear or lust for power - this attitude may be based. A nation who bases her foreign policy on naked power will necessarily become a police state which enslaves the individual in every respect. It is the road Germany has travelled. Protection of the political rights of the individual is impossible without the abandonment of the aggressive attitude. In my opinion any interference into the political development of Asia is aggressive politics - also the establishment of alliances against Soviet Russia ... If things go on as they do the fate of Germany will be repeated with us on a larger scale."
In April 1950 the University of California system had introduced a loyalty oath, one of the major controversies of the Cold War. In August of that year Eason Monroe, a faculty member at San Francisco State University, was fired for refusing to sign it. That October the California state governor signed the Levering Act, imposed a loyalty oath on all public employees in the State. Monroe became the chairman of the Federation for Repeal of the Levering Act in San Francisco, CA. Included with the letter (though not part of the original mailing) is a 12 page pamphlet, published by the Federation in 1950, which explains the Act and their opposition to it and solicits supporting donations.
The letter provides interesting insight into Einstein's pacifism and his thoughts on political activism. While he opposed McCarthyism's threats to academic freedoms, he was not willing to lend his famous name to an organization that he believed did not share his understanding of the wider context.
The California Supreme Court declared the University of California loyalty oath unconstitutional on October 17, 1952 but it would take another 15 years for the Levering Act to be repealed.
In July 1952, Monroe became head of the ACLU of Southern California, and went on to lead the organization for 20 years.
A significant letter that evidences Einstein's ongoing influence as a public intellectual and an activist during the Cold War. Item #123067