The Rapp-Coudert Committee victim that suffered the greatest loss was Morris U. Schappes, a member of the City College English Department whom the administration had tried to fire several years earlier but was prevented from doing so by a "sit-down" of hundreds of students in the college's Lincoln Corridor. Rapp-Coudert, however, gave them another opportunity and you could practically see them slavering when Schappes became the only named person who admitted his membership in the Communist Party and when asked to name others, gave the names of two teachers who had died in Spain and one who had left years earlier. This laid him open to a perjury charge, and the Committee was quick to seize upon the opportunity, with the result that Schappes spent 18 months in jail. During this period, the United States went to war against fascism, and Norman Franklin and Henry Foner wrote "The Ballad of Morris Schappes," pointing out that had he been free, he would have been devoting his efforts to defeating Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito.

The Ballad of Morris Schappes (1942)
By Norman Franklin and Henry Foner

When I put on long britches, 
Dad pulled his belt in two, three hitches – 
Said, “Son, you’ve still got far to go. 
Go ‘long to City College 
And fill your noodle full of knowledge 
That in this world you’ll need to know.”

Having learned my ABC’s, 
I got onto IRT – 
To 139th and Convent I did roam. 
There I learned cosines and logs – 
Pulled apart a couple of frogs, 
And for four long years, called alma mater home.


I went to class in History, 
But it still remained a mystery 
Why some were poor and some folks rich. 
When I asked the teacher “Why?” 
He glared at me like fit to die 
And called me a “good-for-nothing big young upstart.” 

Then to Eco I did go – 
Watched the business cycles grow – 
Saw the seven fat years swallowed by the lean. 
When I asked my teacher “Why?” 
All he did was groan and sigh, 
Said “What’s been has been and having been, has been.”


Then in despair, I wandered 
To where literature was pondered, 
Thought I’d find the long-hairs mighty dry. 
I met a larnin’ chap,   
His proud name, folks, was Morris Schappes -- 
Now I praise the long-hairs to the sky. 

There I heard no “ifs” or “buts,” 
Saw this teacher, full of guts, 
Teaching stuff for which I’d gladly walk a mile. 
He made learning come alive – 
Set me hep to Shelley’s jive, 
And, strange to say, made Wordsworth’s words worth while. 


To guys like me, those days meant 
So much that ‘twas with amazement, 
I learned that Schappes went to jail. 
If we let guys like Morris  
Go down,  then poor freedom’s star is 
Gonna be glimmerin’ awful pale.

So you folks who know the score, 
Realize that in this war, 
We need guys like Schappes building unity. 
Now’s the time, so let’s not wait – 
Open wide the prison gate, 
 And set Schappes free to fight for victory.