During the darkest hours of World War II, when the Allies were suffering enormous casualties, a Scarsdale, NY, high school student experienced a "vision" of the possibilities of a peaceful postwar world. From this mystical moment came the most American powerful student movement of the postwar decadethe Student Federalistswho pressed their elders and their contemporaries to consider the establishment of a world government based on the same organizing principles that guided our own nation's Founding Fathers more than a century-and-a-half earlier. Damned by the fanatics of the extreme right, including the McCartyites and the self-styled patriotic organization, and of the extreme left, led by the Stalinists of the Communist party, the Student Federalists rapidly expanded after VJ Day, reaching a high point of some 15,000 card-carrying members and almost 400 local chapters. Led by war veterans, college students and high schoolers, the Student Federalists became the most vibrant and intellectually challenging campus cause, attracting an unprecedented array of distinguished adult sponsors.
No undergraduate student movement ever grew as fast and as broadly as the Student Federalist grew between 1943 and 1949. Nor did any fade as precipitously as the same movement in the face of a widening Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. This is the fascinating story of the rise and fall of an unique American student movementa rare blend of idealism and pragmatismrecounted against a backdrop of cataclysmic world events. Few other American movements have produced so many future leaders in academia, politics, international aid and public affairs as did this non-partisan and non-sectarian phenomenon.
This storynever told beforeis documented by the correspondence, proceedings and news articles of the student participants themselves and includes a 150-page appendix containing scores of documents, essays, statements of purpose, and official pamphlets documenting the entire decade.