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I Am Not Disloyal

March 14, 1950 — US Senate Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees, Washington DC

 

My name is Dorothy Kenyon. I live at No. 133 West Twenty-first Street, New York City. I am a practicing lawyer with offices located at No. 50 Broadway, New York City.

When I was informed of the accusations that were made against me before this sub committee last week, I did explode. Doubtless my indignation led me to make some impulsive remarks in unparliamentary language. Reflection, and a recollection refreshed by such investigation as I could make in the interim, now permits a much more dispassionate approach. However, nothing can diminish the deep resentment I feel that such outrageous charges should be publicized before this subcommittee and broadcast over the entire Nation without any notice or warning to me.

My answer to these charges is short, simple, and direct. I am not, and never have been, a Communist. I am not, and never have been a fellow traveler. I am not, and never have been, a supporter of, a member of, or a sympathizer with any organization known to me to be, or suspected by me of being, controlled or dominated by Communists. As emphatically and unreservedly as possible, I deny any connection of any kind or character with communism or its adherents. If this leaves anything unsaid to indicate my total and complete detestation of that political philosophy, it is only because it is impossible for me to express my sentiments. I mean my denial to be all inclusive.

So absolute a negation of the charges should be supplemented with an equally positive, but brief, affirmation of what I am and have been.

I received my bachelor of arts degree from Smith College and my law degree (doctor juris) from New York University Law School. I am a member of Phi Beta Kappa and have been for several years a senator of the united chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.

I come of a family of lawyers, my father having been a patent lawyer in New York City where my brothers and a cousin now practice under the firm name of Kenyon & Kenyon. My father’s cousin, William S. Kenyon, was for many years a member of the United States Senate and later a Federal judge in Iowa.

I was admitted to the bar in 1917 and have practiced law continually ever since except during certain periods when I held public office. Mine is a general practice. I am a member of the Bar Association of the City of New York, the New York County Lawyers’ Association, the New York State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the National Women Lawyers’ Association, the American Society of International Law, the American Branch of the International Law Association, and several others.

I have held public office three times, first from June 1, 1936, to December 31, 1937, as deputy commissioner of licenses by appointment of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, second from January 1, 1939, to December 31, 1939, as municipal court judge in New York City, and by appointment of Mayor LaGuardia, and third, from January 1, 1947, to December 31, 1949, as United States delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations, by appointment of President Truman, ratified and confirmed by the Senate. I was also appointment in January 1938, by the League of Nations, as one of a commission of seven jurists (of whom I was the only American) to study the legal status of women throughout the world. This commission continued to operate until the war made further communication between the members impossible. I have also served on a number of governmentally appointed commissions and committees dealing with such subjects as the regulation of employment agencies, minimum-wage legislation, consumer cooperative corporations, problems growing out of the wartime employment of women, etc. I have also done a small amount of labor arbitration.

My interest in good government led me early into the ranks of the League of Women Voters, of which I have been a member for almost 30 years and which I have served in many capacities and ofices. It also led me into the Citizens Union of New York, of which executive committee have been a member for almost 20 years. When the American Labor Party was formed in New York I was one of its earliest members but I left it after our efforts to save it from Communist domination finally failed. I am now an enrolled Democrat. I am also a member of Americans for Democratic Action.

My interest in civil liberties led m e equally early into the ranks of the American Civil Liberties Union ,of which I have been a member of the board for almost 20 years. In that connection I have fought on many civil liberties issues and have participated in many briefs amicus in defense of the Bill of Rights.

My interest in education, in labor problems and in the problems of women made me an early member of the American Association of University Women, of which I am now second vice president. I am also a member of the National Board of the YWCA, a director of the Women’s City Club of New York, the Association for the Aid of Crippled Children, and the Committee of Women in World Affairs. I was also for many years on the board of the Consumers’ League of New York and was for a time its president. I am also a member of numerous other women’s organizations.

I am, and always have been an independent, liberal Democrat, devoted to and actively working for such causes as the improvement of the living and working conditions of labor and the preservation of civil liberties. To the latter cause especially I have given much time and attention and have made speeches on that subject for many years in various parts of the country. At times I have espoused unpopular causes in that connection. and have probably made some enemies of those who disagreed with my views.

I am, and always have been, an ardent, outspoken American citizen, yielding to no one in my admiration of the great privileges this country offers to all its sons and daughters and determined to do all I can to maintain those privileges inviolate forever. I am, and always have been, unalterably opposed to anyone who advocates the overthrow of our Government by force or violence or who otherwise engages in subversive activities or entertains subversive ideas.

I am not content to rely on these general denials and observations, and therefore proceed to deal more specifically with the charges against me. In substance, as I understand it, it is claimed that it can be established by documentary proof that I have been at some time a member of 21 or more Communist-front organizations and therefore stand convicted under the doctrine of guilt by association.

Thus far I have not been confronted with this documentary proof and as I am totally unaware of the contents of most of the documents, I am in no position to make any categorical denials or assertions regarding such statements as they may contain. Here and now, however, I can and do state, with the absolute confidence borne of my personal and positive knowledge, that there does not exist and never existed any genuine document that proves or even tends to prove that I have ever knowingly joined or sponsored or participated in the activities of any organization known to me to be even slightly subversive.

I do not even know the names of all the 23 or more Communist-front organizations I am supposed to have joined. I have taken the list of organizations from the published reports in the press. The names may not be quite accurate and the list is apparently incomplete. It was impossible for me to identify some of the names and events described in those charges. I have done the best I could, however, in the brief time since hearing of them and have searched my files, and my own memory in respect to each one. If any further organizations are alluded to to day I shall ask the committee’s indulgence for time to investigate and make my replies thereon at a later date.

First, let me deny acquaintance with practically every one of the persons mentioned in the charges as being “familiar company” to me, “collaborator,” or “fellow Red.” I do not know and have never to my knowledge laid eyes on Bernhard J. Stern, Albert Maltz, Anna Louise Strong, William Gropper, Langston Hughes, Hewlett Johnson, Ben Gold, Lee Pressmen, Whittaker Chambers, Howard Fast, Saul Mills,Ella Winter,John Howard Lawson, Henry H. Collins, Rockwell Kent, Lewis Merrill, Mervyn Rathborne, Dirk J. Struick, Harry Bridges, Paul P. Crosbie, Benjamin J. Davis, Charles Krumbein, Morris V. Schappes, Simon W. Gerson, Louis Weinstock, Irving Potash, Helen Selden, or Josephine Herbst. I once heard Paul Robeson sing at a concert. Harry F. Ward was, in the thirties (before its Communist purge), chairman of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union, and I, of course, knew him there. Corliss Lamont is still on the board. I met Carol King years ago before she went “left,” but I have seen heard anything of her in many years. Arthur Kallet’s name I vaguely remember, as I vaguely remember Consumer’s Union, but he and it date back in my memory at least 15 years, and if he were a Communist then I did not know it.

I may be pardoned for putting the other names mentioned in a different category. They are Mrs. Dean Acheson, Stanley Isaacs, Phi;ip Jessup, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. I am prodout do say I have had a slight acquaintance with them all.

To repeat, the rest are unknown to me, except as above mentioned, adn the innuendoes as to my relationship with them absolutely false.

Now for the organizations themselves.

League of Women Shoppers: I begin with the League of Women Shoppers because my connection with that organization, which was set up to investigate labor disputes, is ancient history, and it was also very short-lived. Evelyn Preston Baldwin, wife of Rager Baldwin, and a close friend of mine, became its president at its founding in 1935 or thereabouts. I was a sponsor. We both withdrew a year of so later. I remember that I did so because I did not approve of the way the investigations were being handled. If it was Communist then, neither of us knew it.

Political Prisoners’ Ball Fund Committee: The Political Prisoners’ Ball Fund Committee is also ancient history.

I have no documentation on this organization in my files, but I remember that I served as sponsor for a short time at the request of Roger Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin, who was a trustee of the fund, tells me that he and others set it up about 1925 to write bail in a great variety of worthy cases, some may possible have involve Communists but most of them definitely did not. It was liquidated about 1934. He regarded it as wholly non-partisan and non-Communist. It is significant that it s apparently not on any subversive list. It is described in the charges merely as subsidiary to the International Labor Defense, which is on the subversive list. The connection between them is not stated.

Consumer’s Union: The Consumer’s Union is also ancient history. I have never represented Consumer’s Union. I had acted as attorney for Consumer’s Research in its incorporation and for several years thereafter prior to 1935, but I never acted for Consumer’s Union. Consumer’s Union came into existence, as I recall it, following a strike and split-up of the business into two organizations. They both test merchandise and give advice as to good buys. This is where I had my short acquaintance with Arthur Kallet. He was with Consumer’s Research and tater with Consumer’s Union.

Conference on Pan-American Democracy: The Conference on Pan-American Democracy comes next. I find a letterhead in my file, listing me as a sponsor of this organization, dated March 4, 1939, along with Senator Paul A. Douglas, John Haynes Holmes, Quincy Howe, Stanley Isaacs, and Dr. Ralph W. Sockman, all friends of mine. I remember almost nothing about this organization, except that I think I may have spoken before it in 1938 or thereabouts. I have never heard of it since. I certainly had no idea at that time that it was Communist, and I am sure my other sponsor friends had no such idea, either.

National Council of American-Soviet Friendship: Now for the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. I was never a member of this organization, but I became a sponsor of it (along with many distinguished people) at the height of the war effort (in 1943, I think it was), when the Russians were making their stand before Stalingrad and many of us believed that friendship with the people of Russia was both possible and good. I withdrew my sponsorship some 3 years later, when I had become convinced that the organization was no longer being used for the purposes state in its title. Not long ago a friend told me that my name had not been removed from the sponsor’s list as I had requested, and I wrote demanding its removal. I quote that letter:

 

 

 

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Frankness and caution admonish me to avoid creating false impressions or otherwise putting myself in the position of the lady who protested too much. I cannot and do not deny that my name may have been used, even at times with my consent, in connection with organizations that later proved to be subversive but which, at the time seemed to be engaged in activities or dedicated to objectives which I could and did approve. Nevertheless I challenge and defy anyone to prove that I ever joined, or sponsored, or continued to identify myself with, any organizations or individuals I knew, or had reason to believe, were subversive,

 

 

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Congressional_Record/POCRNtikfTEC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=My+name+is+Dorothy+Kenyon.+I+live+at+No.+133+West+Twenty-first+Street,+New+York+City.+I+am+a+practicing+lawyer+with+offices+located+at+No.+50+Broadway,+New+York+City.&pg=PA3594&printsec=frontcover

 

Source: Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 81st Congress, 2nd Sess., Vol. 96, Part 3 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office), pp. 3594-3596.