“More Than Just Ourselves: Willard Uphaus, Louis Wyman, and Civil Liberties in the McCarthy Era”
Tuesday, April 4, at Dover City Hall Auditorium, 7 PM
By Arnie Alpert
Back in 1959, Dr. Willard Uphaus, the Executive Director of the World Fellowship Center, refused to give New Hampshire’s attorney general a copy of the Center’s guest list and was sent to jail for a year on a contempt of court charge. At a time in which conflicts between state power and the power of conscience are once again coming to the surface, we are happy to be working with World Fellowship to put on a forum about the Uphaus case.
I hope to see you at City Hall Auditorium in Dover a week from Tuesday.
Here’s the details:
“More Than Just Ourselves: Willard Uphaus, Louis Wyman, and Civil Liberties in the McCarthy Era” is the tile of the forum, a panel discussion that will be held on April 4 at Dover City Hall Auditorium starting at 7 pm.
The discussion will be chaired by Michael Ferber, University of New Hampshire Professor of English and Humanities, who will lead a panel of distinguished scholars in a conversation about the Uphaus v. Wyman case, the Supreme Court decision that rocked NH and the country during the McCarthy era. The case pitted the then New Hampshire attorney general, Louis Wyman, against Willard Uphaus, a Methodist lay minister and then WFC executive director, in a showdown between the assertions of threats to national security and claimed rights to free speech and association, issues at the forefront of public discussion today.
In 1953, Wyman, as part of his investigation to root out “un-American activities” under the NH Subversive Activities Act of 1951, served a subpoena on Uphaus seeking disclosure of WFC’s guests, staff and program presenters. Wyman targeted WFC, the Albany summer camp known for its free-wheeling discussions of political, economic, and social issues. Uphaus refused to comply with the subpoena, relying on the First Amendment. The fight captured the headlines and ultimately went to the US Supreme Court, which, in a 5-4 decision, sided with Wyman that the guest list must be provided. Uphaus continued to defy the subpoena and spent a year in Merrimack County jail in Boscawen for contempt of court.
“The issues considered in this forum could not be more timely,” said World Fellowship co-director Andy Davis. “We once again find ourselves in a society-wide discussion about the appropriate balance between individual freedoms and the needs of the wider community. In the age of Wikileaks and more powerful and technically proficient intelligence gathering, where do we find the balance between communal security and the right of conscience of each citizen? We look forward to a broad discussion of these issues.”
Professor Ferber will be joined by panelists W. Jeffrey Bolster, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, Clare Chapman, New Hampshire Council of Churches executive director, and Maria Sanders, associate professor of philosophy at Plymouth State University.
The forum is being presented in Dover at 7 pm, Tuesday, April 4, at the Dover City Hall Auditorium, 288 Central Ave. The same program will be offered the previous evening in the Loynd Auditorium, at Kennett High School, 409 Eagles Way in North Conway. These programs are made possible by a generous grant from the New Hampshire Humanities Council (NHHC).
And check out World Fellowship’s summer program, now posted on their website. I’ll be leading a discussion there on “Resistance and Resilience in the Age of Trump” on August 21. I’d love to see you on April 4 and again on August 21.