A friend told me a disturbing story about a man named Percy Crosby who was committed to Kings Park State Hospital in January, 1949. I had never heard of Mr. Crosby but his story was intriguing. If everything that I have been able to discover in just a matter of days turns out to be true, then a heinous crime was committed against Mr. Crosby. The story is quite complicated and involves a number of people and government agencies. This is what I found.
Percy Crosby was born on December 8, 1891, in Brooklyn, New York. He was an accomplished author and artist who spent the last sixteen years of his life locked up in Kings Park State Hospital, and died there on his 73rd birthday on December 8, 1964. According to Joan Crosby Tibbetts, daughter of Percy Crosby: “During his career as a celebrity American artist and author, Percy Crosby crusaded against corruption and stood up to the likes of Al Capone and his henchmen when American citizens were too frightened to speak out. He used his Irish humor and gift of satire to lampoon politicians, President Roosevelt, the Ku Klux Klan, and fought for civil liberties, child labor laws, rights of veterans, and freedom of the press. Although he made a profound impression with millions of Americans, primarily through Skippy, the loveable and mischievous cartoon character who became a household word, Percy Crosby was unable to prevent retaliation by those who coveted control of Skippy for their commercial gain, and wanted him silenced. Percy Crosby was falsely imprisoned in a New York mental hospital (KING’S PARK), for the last 16 years of his life, following years of harassment by the IRS. He referred to this period of his life as a “political witch hunt.” During this time, Crosby’s famous Skippy trademark and its valuable goodwill was pirated by a bankrupt peanut butter company, which later merged with a Fortune 500 company, making a fortune in illicit sales under the Skippy brand name.” (1)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, nicknamed FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States who served from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945. He was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York, and died on April 12, 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia. FDR won the presidency in November of 1932. In 1936, he was re-elected for a second term; 1940 third term; 1944 fourth term. The Twenty-Second Amendment of the United States Constitution was passed by The Congress on March 21, 1947, and was ratified on February 27, 1951. It set a two term limit (4 years per term, 8 years total), for the office of President of the United States.
So, what does FDR have to do with Percy Crosby?
According to political commentator, David Martin, in his December 10, 2006, piece entitled, Roosevelt’s Revenge: “In 1937 Crosby drew a political cartoon, entitled “Paying the Price”, showing the slain figure of Justice lying on the ground with a giant boot on her chest, captioned “One Man Rule”. Crosby sent copies of the cartoon to the Supreme Court and all members of Congress, which depicted Roosevelt’s attempt to “pack the Supreme Court” after its unanimous decision against the NRA. Roosevelt was reputedly furious, and already sensitive to public outrage at his “court packing” plan. The IRS claimed Skippy, Inc. was incorporated by Percy Crosby to evade taxes and filed liens for $47,000, which was published nationally and reported during congressional hearings on tax evasion. Crosby fought back with prominent newspaper ads denying liability, and Lord, Day & Lord filed protest briefs, to no avail. He was forced to discontinue his publications under “The Freedom Press”, which he founded in 1932, and had to sell valuable real estate at distress prices to pay the IRS debt and penalty fines. In 1939 his wife filed for divorce and took custody of the four young Crosby children. The bitter divorce proceedings were publicized to portray the creator of Skippy as selfish and cruel. The children never saw their father again.” (2)
Most of us have heard the famous quote, “It is better to let 100 guilty men go free than to imprison one innocent man.” As we have seen over and over again, this adage only applies to criminal law cases but was never applied to those unfortunate people who were unjustly labeled as mentally ill and incarcerated in state mental hospitals. You decide.
1. The Life And Times Of Percy Crosby