Baldwin, Roger N. (1884–1981)

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BALDWIN, ROGER N. (1884–1981)

Until the United States entered world war i, Roger Nash Baldwin was a social worker and a leading expert on juvenile courts. A pacifist who feared that the war might cause repression of individual rights, Baldwin helped to found the National Civil Liberties Bureau in 1917. The Bureau defended conscientious objectors and those prosecuted for allegedly antiwar speeches and publications. Reorganized in 1920 by Baldwin and others as the american civil liberties union, it expanded its efforts to include among its many clients leaders of the International Workers of the World and other labor organizations; John T. Scopes, who violated Tennessee's anti-evolution law in 1925 and was prosecuted in the infamous "monkey trial"; the Jehovah's Witnesses; and even those, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the German American Bund, who opposed freedom of speech for all but themselves. Baldwin was also committed to efforts on behalf of human rights abroad; despite his sympathy for radical causes, his investigation of the Soviet Union led him to oppose communism. In 1940, at his urging, the ACLU adopted a loyalty resolution barring supporters of totalitarian dictatorships from membership, only to find later that the government loyalty oaths, which it fought in court, were based on its own resolution. Baldwin served as director of the ACLU until 1950, as its chairman from 1950 to 1955, and as its international work adviser until his death. After world war ii, Baldwin was counselor on civil liberties in the reconstruction of the governments of Japan, Korea, and Germany.

Richard B. Bernstein


Lamson, Peggy 1976 Roger Baldwin, Founder of the American Civil Liberties Union: A Portrait. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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Baldwin, Roger N. (1884–1981)

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