William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois was an individual of great accomplishment born in 1868. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard. He was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, which has had a profound affect on U.S. policies and worked hard to eliminate racism in the U.S.
The U.S. federal government persecuted Mr. DuBois. “The U.S. Department of Justice ordered DuBois and others to register as agents of a “foreign principal.” DuBois refused and was immediately indicted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Sufficient evidence was lacking, therefore DuBois was acquitted.” See A Biographical Sketch of W.E.B. DuBois
The NAACP describes the incident as follows on their website – “In 1950-1951 Du Bois was tried and acquitted as an agent of a foreign power in one of the most ludicrous actions ever taken by the American government.”
Mr. Du Bois was a prolific writer and played a most historic role in the U.S., particularly during the first half of the 20st Century.
He wrote The Souls of Black Folk among many other works.
The U.S. government apparently confiscated his U.S. passport in 1951 and Du Bois was unable to travel to Africa. In 1963, the U.S. government refused to renew his U.S. passport and he became a naturalized citizen of Ghana. Did he relinquish his U.S. citizenship by application of U.S. law? Some reports and biographies claim he lost his U.S. citizenship by swearing an oath of allegiance to a foreign country.
Interestingly, the first tax provision imposed on “expatriation” (i.e., individuals who ceased to be U.S. citizens) was adopted by The Foreign Investors Tax Act of 1966 (“FITA”), shortly after the time Mr. Du Bois took allegiance to a foreign country. The concept of former LPRs as expatriates with tax provisions was not included in the statute until the 1995 amendments.
The 1966 FITA tax law on expatriation created a watershed concept, which has largely only had great affect during the last two decades, and particularly since the 2008 “HEART” Amendments.