Samuel Orr

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Samuel Orr in a news photo from January 15, 1920.
Samuel Orr in 1920.jpg

Samuel Orr (July 11, 1890 – August 29, 1981) was a socialist politician from New York City best remembered for being one of the five elected members of the Socialist Party of America expelled by the New York State Assembly during the First Red Scare in 1920.[1]


Early years[edit]

Orr was born on July 11, 1890 in the town of Rajgród, then a part of Russian-occupied Poland.[2] His family moved to the United States in 1891. Orr graduated from the New York University School of Law and practiced law, including time at the firm of Benjamin N. Cardozo and Nathan Bijur.

Political career[edit]

In November 1917, Orr was elected on the Socialist ticket to the New York State Assembly (Bronx Co., 4th D.), and sat in the 141st New York State Legislature, being one of 10 members of the Socialist Party which were elected to the Assembly of 1918, the high-water mark of the party's fortunes in the state.

In November 1919, Orr was re-elected to the Assembly, but on the first day of the session of the 143rd New York State Legislature he was called before the Speaker along with four of his Socialist colleagues — Louis Waldman, Charles Solomon, Samuel A. DeWitt, and August Claessens. The five were charged with being unfit for membership in the Assembly through their membership in the Socialist Party and were suspended from their seats by a vote of 140 to 6.[3]

A protracted political trial before the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary followed to determine the fitness of the five Socialists to take their seats, which ran throughout the winter and spring. The so-called "trial" began on January 20, 1920.[4] Morris Hillquit and Seymour Stedman were the lead attorneys in handling the case for the Socialist defendants. The group was formally expelled on April 1, 1920. All five were re-elected at a special election on September 16, and appeared to take their seats at the beginning of the special session on September 20. The next day, Orr and DeWitt were permitted to take their seats, but Claessens, Solomon and Waldman were expelled again. Protesting against the re-expulsion of their comrades, DeWitt and Orr resigned their seats.

Samuel Orr was re-elected to the State Assembly in November 1920, and took his seat in the 144th New York State Legislature for the session of 1921.

In 1922, Orr ran in the 22nd District for the New York State Senate, but lost. He ran again in 1928 in the same district, without success. In 1933, Orr ran in the 21st District, and lost once again.

Orr ran for US Congress in the 23rd District of New York in 1926, and again in 1930 and 1934. He lost each time.

He was appointed a New York City Special Deputy Controller in 1938. He was appointed a city magistrate by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in 1941 and served for 10 years.

Death and legacy[edit]

Samuel Orr died at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx on August 29, 1981.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Samuel Orr Dies at 91; Former Assemblyman". New York Times. September 1, 1981. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  2. ^ U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, entry for Samuel Orr, retrieved August 24, 2014
  3. ^ The complete text of the resolution appears in State of New York, Proceedings of the Judiciary Committee of the Assembly in the Matter of the Investigation by the Assembly of the State of New York as to the Qualifications of Louis Waldman, August Claessens, Samuel A. DeWitt, Samuel Orr and Charles Solomon, to Retain Their Seats in Said Body, In 3 Volumes. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Co., 1920. Vol. 1, pp. 367-369. Hereafter NY Judiciary Proceedings.
  4. ^ Louis Waldman, Albany: The Crisis in Government. New York: Boni and Liveriight, 1920. Page 50.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
new district
New York State Assembly
Bronx County, 4th District

Succeeded by
M. Maldwin Fertig
Preceded by
M. Maldwin Fertig
New York State Assembly
Bronx County, 4th District

Succeeded by
Louis A. Schoffel