Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Signs ADA statement opposing McCarthyism

Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Signs ADA statement opposing McCarthyism

Letter from Niebuhr to President Eisenhower

February 3, 1956

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Eisenhower:

I am writing in behalf of Jacob Mindel, one of the communists who was convicted under the Smith Act, whose Social Security payments have been stopped. And the demand was made for the return of $2819.70 of payments previously made. Such an action on the part of the Social Security authorities seems in line with the action, since repudiated, but the Veterans' Administration in canceling the payments of a veteran of suspected disloyalty. Can our nation really gain anything in majesty, in moral stature, by these small acts of vindictiveness against dissenters, even if the dissenters were involved in a conspiracy? I hope that your compassion will move you to correct this mistake.

Yours respectfully,
Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr Papers: Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room

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Paul Elie

is senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.

Jean Bethke Elshtain

is an author and Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Robin Lovin

is Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and the author of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism.