To the Editors:

The following is a note to the National Endowment for the Humanities, in reply to an invitation to serve as a Consultant on what research grants the Endowment should make. The invitation included several affidavits, including one abandoning the right to assert the right to strike against the Government and another foreswearing membership in organizations advocating “overthrow” of the Government (without even a specification of “force and violence”).

September 9, 1968

Mr. Saunders Redding

Director, Division of

Research and Publication

National Foundation on the Arts

and the Humanities

1800 G Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20406

“Dear Mr. Redding:

“I was astonished to receive from an Endowment presumably committed to independent intellectual endeavor the “appointment affidavits” that you enclosed, which seem to be a condition of serving even as an unpaid Consultant for the purpose of evaluating research proposals made to the Endowment. For—I am sure like most intellectuals—I cannot sign several of your affidavits. For example, I firmly uphold and assert the right to strike against the Government of the United States, and indeed assert not merely the right but the duty of all soldiers to do so if ordered to fight in Vietnam or otherwise assist in prosecuting that war. In addition, I object on principle to any affidavit as to “subversive activity and affiliation,” and will not sign one. And this one poses me substantive difficulties. It has always seemed to me that the illegal action of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in authorizing ratification of the Constitution by state conventions rather than legislatures, as provided by the Articles of Confederation, was an “overthrow” of the constitutional form of government, and I believe an analogous—but this time democratically based—process is probably necessary and desirable today.

“If you still wish me to serve as Consultant to the Endowment, I shall be glad to do so. I have filled out the statements of financial interests, to which I have no objection. Please let me know as quickly as possible.”

Arthur I. Waskow

Resident Fellow

Institute for Policy Studies

Washington, D.C.

This Issue

October 10, 1968