Controversial “Battle of Newburgh” to mark 50th Anniversary


Excellent event for history buffs and those curious about Newburgh’s history with welfare! And as they say, to know where you are going you must know where you are coming from.

Press release:

The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands will host a fifty-year retrospective on the Battle of Newburgh.

The event planned for October will recall the 1960’s conflict over a plan to curb welfare costs to help meet the city’s financial struggles. The decision sparked a national debate that became known as the “Battle of Newburgh.” The issue attracted the attention of prominent figures and organizations such as Arizona Senator and Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater, the NAACP and New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. The “Battle of Newburgh” was also turned into an NBC White Paper Report of the same name.

“Newburgh was front and center in what became a very critical and divisive issue. It is important for us to remember and examine our past as we look to the future and work to revitalize our communities today,” said Johanna Porr, Director of the Newburgh Historical Society.

The retrospective will be held on October 6th, from 1pm – 3:30pm at Aquinas Hall on the campus of Mount Saint Mary College is Newburgh.

The program will include a viewing of the original NBC White Papers Report and a short video compilation of personal first-hand accounts. This will be followed by a panel discussion with a group of notable historians. Individuals in the audience will also have an opportunity to share their recollections from era with the Sound & Story Project at the conclusion of the program. Tickets are $10 for general admission and free to Historical Society Members. Group discounts are available.

To purchase tickets or more information about the event and the history of the “Battle for Newburgh” you can visit:


In August 1961 a national Gallup poll revealed 85% support for the Newburgh City Council’s 13 point plan to balance the city budget by reforming requirements for individuals to receive payments from the welfare relief program. Two months later, the State of New York ordered a permanent injunction, effectively ending the City of Newburgh’s attempts to curb welfare costs.

In the midst of this dispute, City Manager Joseph MacDowell Mitchell was quoted in the New York Times asking, “The basic issue is can a city control its own social and economic future, or shall this future be determined by outsiders, by the State and Federal government, by social theorists and philosophers?” More than fifty years later, this question is still at the heart of political debate.