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Divided by Loyalty: The Debate Regarding Loyalty Provisions in the National Defense Education Act of 1958

  • Brent D. Maher (a1)
Abstract

The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958 was the first federal investment in low-interest student loans and became a precedent for expansion of student loans in the Higher Education Act of 1965. In its controversial loyalty provisions, the NDEA required loan recipients to affirm loyalty to the U.S. government. Between 1958 and 1962, thirty-two colleges and universities refused to participate or withdrew from the NDEA loan program, arguing that the loyalty provisions unfairly targeted students and violated principles of free inquiry. This essay argues that debate over the loyalty provisions fractured a partnership between progressives who favored general aid to education and conservatives who supported short-term investment for defense purposes. Although debates over the NDEA loyalty requirements seem specific to the Cold War, a close examination of the arguments illuminates their alignment with long-standing ideological conflicts over legitimacy of federal aid to higher education.

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1 Suspitsyna, Tatiana, “Higher Education for Economic Advancement and Engaged Citizenship: An Analysis of the U.S. Department of Education Discourse,” Journal of Higher Education 83, no. 1 (2012), 4972; and Shear, Michael D., “Colleges Rattled as Obama Seeks Rating System,” New York Times, 26 May 2014, A1.

2 Urban, Wayne J., More than Science and Sputnik: The National Defense Education Act of 1958 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010), 19.

3 Ibid., 184.

4 Botti, John McDonough, “The NDEA, Loyalty, and Community: Resistance at Two Liberal Arts Colleges” (PhD dissertation, University of Maryland, 2014); and Clowse, Barbara Barksdale, Brainpower for the Cold War: The Sputnik Crisis and National Defense Education Act of 1958 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981).

5 Loss, Christopher P., Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century, Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 116, 156–61; and Schwegler, John Stephan, “Academic Freedom and the Disclaimer Affidavit of the National Defense Education Act: The Response of Higher Education” (EdD dissertation, Teachers College Columbia University, 1982), 128–38.

6 Higher Education for American Democracy: A Report of the President's Commission on Higher Education (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1948); Loss, Between Citizens and the State, 118; and Hutcheson, Philo A., “The 1947 President's Commission on Higher Education and the National Rhetoric on Higher Education Policy,” History of Higher Education Annual 22, no. 1 (2002), 91102.

7 Simpson, Alfred D., “Financing Higher Education,” Journal of Higher Education 19, no. 4 (April 1948), 202.

8 Freeland, Richard M., Academia's Golden Age: Universities in Massachusetts, 1945–1970 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 84.

9 Hutcheson, “The 1947 President's Commission,” 97.

10 Ibid.; and Reuben, Julie A and Perkins, Linda, “Introduction: Commemorating the Sixtieth Anniversary of the President's Commission Report, ‘Higher Education for Democracy,”’ History of Education Quarterly 47, no. 3 (August 2007), 265–76.

11 Urban, More than Science and Sputnik, 48–65.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid., 65.

15 Clowse, Brainpower for the Cold War, 125–27.

16 85 Cong. Rec. 19,086 (1958).

17 Clowse, Brainpower for the Cold War, 137.

18 85 Cong. Rec. 19,596 (1958).

19 Clowse, Brainpower for the Cold War, 138.

20 Divine, Robert A., The Sputnik Challenge (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 165.

21 Henry, David D., “The Role of the Federal Government in Higher Education,” Educational Record 40, no. 3 (July 1959), 197.

22 U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, The National Defense Education Act of 1958: A Summary and Analysis of the Act (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1958), 12; Urban, More than Science and Sputnik, 2–4.

23 National Defense Education Act of 1958: Hearing before Subcommittees of the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives, Eighty-sixth Congress, First Session. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1959), 3.

24 U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, The National Defense Education Act, Sec. 202.

25 Clowse, Brainpower for the Cold War, 131–32; Urban, More than Science and Sputnik, 184–85.

26 Kirshen, H. B., “The Internal Security Act of 1950,” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors 37, no. 2 (July 1951), 260–75.

27 U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, The National Defense Education Act, Sec. 1001(f), 45.

28 Schwegler, “Academic Freedom” 99–100.

29 85 Cong. Rec., 2nd Sess., 17,320 (1958).

30 Schwegler, “Academic Freedom”; and “Colleges Oppose U.S. Non-Red Oath: 6 Schools Denounce Pledge as Condition for Student Loan Under’ 58 Act,” New York Times, 22 January 1959, 12.

31 College to Return Aid: Bennington Says It Opposes Oaths Required by U.S.,” New York Times, 7 May 1959, 66; “A College Rejects Student-Loan Aid,” New York Times, 10 October 1959, 12; and “Oberlin Fights Oath: Quits Student Loan Plan and Returns $68,146 to U.S.,” New York Times 17 November 1959, 28.

32 Government Security Checks: Statement of the Haverford College Faculty,” AAUP Bulletin 44, no. 2 (June 1958), 401–2.

33 Glass, Bentley and Fidler, William P., “Disclaimer Affidavit Requirement: Association Officers Express Disapproval of Title X, Section 1001 (F) (1) of the National Defense Education Act of 1958,” AAUP Bulletin 44, no. 4 (December 1958), 771.

34 Griswold, A. Whitney, “Loyalty: An Issue of Academic Freedom,” New York Times Magazine, 20 December 1959, SM42.

35 Ibid., 47.

36 Loss, Between Citizens and the State, 159; Urban, More than Science and Sputnik, 183–84.

37 86 Cong. Rec., 1st Sess. 14,096, (1959).

38 Eckelberry, R. H., “Editorial: The Disclaimer Affidavit,” Journal of Higher Education 31, no. 3 (March 1960), 159–60.

39 86 Cong. Rec., 1st Sess., 14,096 (1959).

40 Andrew, John A., The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997), 5374.

41 Second Session at Half Way Point,” Congressional Digest 39, no. 4 (April 1960), 126.

42 Ibid., 108.

43 Ibid., 126.

44 86 Cong. Rec., 1st Sess., 14,075 (1959).

45 Costanzo, Joseph F., “Loyalty Oath Affidavit,” University of Detroit Law Journal 37, no. 5 (June 1960), 721.

46 Disclaimer Affidavit: Non-Participating and Disapproving Colleges and Universities,” AAUP Bulletin 48, no. 4 (December 1962), 331.

47 Chayes, Abram J., “Abram J. Chayes Oral History Interview—JFK #1,” in John F. Kennedy Oral History Collection (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, 1964), 5358, http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKOH-ABJC-01.aspx

48 Burns, James MacGregor, John Kennedy: A Political Profile (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1961), 268.

49 Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, “Loyalty Oath: An Obstacle to Better Education,” AAUP Bulletin 45, no. 1 (March 1959), 25.

50 Ibid.

51 Education: Loyalty Oath and Disclaimer Affidavit,” Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Presidential Campaign Files, 1960 (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Undated), 2.

52 Kennedy, “Loyalty Oath,” 26.

53 Joughin, Louis, “Disclaimer Affidavit,” AAUP Bulletin 45, no. 3 (September 1959), 339–41.

54 Griswold, “Loyalty,” 18.

55 Kenworthy, E. W., “Senate Votes End of Student Oath: Acts to Bar Non-communist Pledge Opposed by Many Leading Universities,” New York Times, 16 June 1960, 1; and Schwegler, “Academic Freedom,” 116–17.

56 Second Session at Half Way Point,” 113.

57 Ibid., 119.

58 86 Cong. Rec., 1st Sess., 14,074 (1959).

59 Ibid., 14,068.

60 Ibid., 14,071.

61 86 Cong. Rec., 2nd Sess., 12,663 (1960).

62 Ibid., 12,666–67.

63 Ibid., 12,667.

64 86 Cong. Rec. 1st Sess, 14,098 (1959)

65 86 Cong. Rec., 2nd Sess., 12,664 (1960).

66 Second Session at Half Way Point,” 118.

67 86 Cong. Rec., 2nd Sess., 12666 (1960).

68 Ibid., 12667.

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.

71 Ibid.

72 Ibid.

73 Schweder, “Academic Freedom,” 123; Orentlicher, Herman I., “Disclaimer Affidavit: A Valediction,” AAUP Bulletin 48, no. 4 (Dec. 1962): 324–30; and “Exit: College Affidavit,” New York Times, 18 October 1962, 38.

74 Orentlicher, “Disclaimer Affidavit,” 327.

75 Ibid.

76 Letters to the Times,” New York Times, 30 October 1962, 34.

77 Ibid.

78 Graham, Hugh Davis, The Uncertain Triumph: Federal Education Policy in the Kennedy and Johnson Years (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 2829.

79 Ibid., 28–32.

80 Ibid., 35.

81 Ibid., 50–52; and The Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963: H.R. 6143, Introduced by Representative Edith Green (Oregon), Research American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy ed. (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1963), 116.

82 Green, Edith, Education and the Public Good: The Federal Role in Education, The Burton Lecture (Cambridge, MA: Distributed for the Graduate School of Education of Harvard University by Harvard University Press, 1964), 13.

83 Graham, The Uncertain Triumph, 53–83.

84 Hunter, Majorie, “College Aid Bill Passed by the House, 367 to 22,” New York Times, 27 August 1965, 1.

85 Morris, John D., “Senate Votes, 79–3, for College Aid Bill: Senate Approves College Aid Bill,” New York Times 3 September 1965, 1.

86 Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at Southwest Texas State College Upon Signing the Higher Education Act of 1965,” 8 November 1965, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=27356&st=johnson&st1=higher+education.

The author thanks Dr. Julie Reuben, Dr. Judith Block McLaughlin, Dr. Richard Light, the editors of the History of Education Quarterly, and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and guidance in the development of this article.

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History of Education Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0018-2680
  • EISSN: 1748-5959
  • URL: /core/journals/history-of-education-quarterly
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