State Representative criticizes UW for hiring Marxist Harold Laski as visiting lecturer on January 23, 1939.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2083
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On January 23, 1939, the University of Washington is criticized for hiring Economics Professor Harold J. Laski (1893-1950), a British Marxist, as a visiting Walker-Ames Lecturer. State Representative D. L. Underwood (D., Seattle) calls for an immediate investigation by the House of Representatives into "Communistic activities" at the University. Laski had published an article in The Nation entitled, "Why I am a Marxist."

Two days later, 2,055 persons filled Meany Hall at the University to hear Laski speak and 3,000 to 4,000 are turned away. Laski's lecture described the aims of the British Labour Party. His $5,000 fee for his time in Seattle was paid by the Walker-Ames endowment, and not by public funds.

Harold Laski was a member of the British Labour Party from the time of World War I, and was chairman of the party from 1945 to 1946. He was author of several books including A Grammar of Politics (1925), Liberty in the Modern State (1930), Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (1943), and The American Democracy (1948). His biography posted on the website of the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he taught, describes him as "outspoken," "controversial," and "a leading British intellectual of the twentieth century."


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 24, 1939, p. 1; Ibid., January 26, 1939, p. 4; The Seattle Times, January 24, 1939, p. 1; "Harold Laski," London School of Economics and Politics website accessed on January 23, 2006 (
Note: This essay was expanded on January 23, 2006.

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