The Lusk Committee
In 1919, the New York State Legislature established the Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Seditious Activities (Concurrent Resolution, March 26, 1919). This committee was given broad authority to investigate individuals and organizations in the State who were suspected of promoting the overthrow of the American government in violation of the criminal anarchy articles of the State's Penal Code. With the exception of a minor case, this was the first time that these statutes had been implemented since their enactment in 1902 following the assassination of President McKinley by an anarchist in Buffalo.
For more than a year, the committee gathered an enormous body of information on suspected radical groups by raiding organization offices and examining documents, infiltrating meetings, assisting law enforcement agents in the arrest of thousands, and subpoenaing witnesses for the committee's hearings. The investigation generated nationwide publicity and the repressive attitude which resulted throughout the State contributed to the expulsion of five Socialist members from the New York State Assembly and the prosecution of a number of individuals on criminal anarchy charges. The committee's investigation officially ended when it submitted its final report with recommendations to the legislature in April 1920.