McCarthyism Index

McCarthyism Index

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  • McCarthyism
  • Hollywood Ten
  • American Communist Party
  • Sacco-Vanzetti Case
  • Federal Writers Project
  • Federal Theatre Project
  • Marshall Plan
  • The Red Scare (1919-20)
  • Espionage Act
  • Red Spy Queen
  • Eugene Dennis Case
  • McCarran-Walter Act
  • House Un-American Activities
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations
  • Art Students League
  • Group Theatre
  • WPA Federal Art Project
  • Truman Doctrine
  • NATO
  • Alien Registration Act
  • Internal Security Act
  • Red Channels
  • Rosenberg Case
  • Sedition Act
  • Elizabeth Bentley
  • Marion Bachrach
  • Joel Barr
  • Abraham Brothman
  • Earl Browder
  • Karl Hermann Brunck
  • Louis Budenz
  • Whittaker Chambers
  • Frank Coe
  • Henry Hill Collins
  • Judith Coplon
  • Lauchlin Currie
  • Hope Hale Davis
  • Samuel Dickstein
  • Martha Dodd
  • Laurence Duggan
  • Gerhart Eisler
  • Noel Field
  • Klaus Fuchs
  • Harold Glasser
  • Vivian Glassman
  • Harry Gold
  • Jacob Golos
  • David Greenglass
  • Theodore Hall
  • Alger Hiss
  • Donald Hiss
  • Joseph Katz
  • Charles Kramer
  • Duncan Chaplin Lee
  • Harvey Matusow
  • Hede Massing
  • Paul Massing
  • Boris Morros
  • William Perl
  • Victor Perlo
  • Joszef Peter
  • Lee Pressman
  • Mary Price
  • William Remington
  • Julius Rosenberg
  • Alfred Sarant
  • Abraham George Silverman
  • Helen Silvermaster
  • Nathan Silvermaster
  • Alfred Stern
  • William Ludwig Ullmann
  • Julian Wadleigh
  • Harold Ware
  • Nathaniel Weyl
  • Donald Niven Wheeler
  • Harry Dexter White
  • Nathan Witt
  • Mark Zborowski
  • Roy M. Brewer
  • Owen Brewster
  • William Henry Chamberlin
  • Roy Cohn
  • Martin Dies
  • Elizabeth Dilling
  • John T. Flynn
  • Edward J. Hart
  • Vincent Hartnett
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Joan LaCour
  • Patrick McCarran
  • Joseph McCarthy
  • Karl Mundt
  • Richard Nixon
  • A. M. Palmer
  • Westbrook Pegler
  • John Rankin
  • David Rousset
  • David Schine
  • J. Parnell Thomas
  • Clyde Tolson
  • Harold Velde
  • Nathaniel Weyl
  • Francis E. Walter
  • Walter Winchell
  • John Wood
  • Robert E. Wood
  • Louis Budenz
  • Lee J. Cobb
  • Richard Collins
  • Edward Dmytryk
  • Max Eastman
  • Vincent Hartnett
  • Sterling Hayden
  • Michael Gordon
  • Roy Huggins
  • Burl Ives
  • Elia Kazan
  • Victor Kravchenko
  • Isobel Lennart
  • Eugene Lyons
  • Larry Parks
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Robert Rossen
  • Budd Schulberg
  • Robert Taylor
  • Leo Townsend
  • Walter Wanger
  • Nathaniel Weyl
  • Josh White
  • Charles Willoughby
  • Larry Adler
  • Luther Adler
  • Stella Adler
  • Cedric Belfrage
  • Leonard Bernstein
  • Alvah Bessie
  • Herbert Biberman
  • David Bohm
  • Bertolt Brecht
  • John Bright
  • Joseph Bromberg
  • Hugo Butler
  • Angus Cameron
  • Alan Campbell
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Lester Cole
  • Aaron Copland
  • Jeff Corey
  • Howard Da Silvia
  • Hans Eisler
  • Howard Fast
  • John Henry Faulk
  • Carl Foreman
  • John Garfield
  • Will Geer
  • Bernard Gordon
  • Lloyd Gough
  • Paul Green
  • Dashiell Hammett
  • Yip Harburg
  • Lillian Hellman
  • Marsha Hunt
  • Ian McLellan Hunter
  • Paul Jarrico
  • Victor Jerome
  • Gordon Kahn
  • Sidney Kingsley
  • Ring Lardner Jr.
  • Joan LaCour
  • John Howard Lawson
  • Canada Lee
  • Philip Loeb
  • Joseph Losey
  • Albert Maltz
  • William Mandel
  • Harvey Matusow
  • Arthur Miller
  • Lewis Milestone
  • Karen Morley
  • Zero Mostel
  • Samuel Ornitz
  • Robert Oppenheimer
  • Dorothy Parker
  • Abraham Polonsky
  • John Randolph
  • Anne Revere
  • Elmer Rice
  • Marguerite Roberts
  • Paul Robeson
  • Edwin Rolfe
  • Jean Rouverol
  • John Sanford
  • Adrian Scott
  • Pete Seeger
  • George Seldes
  • Agnes Smedley
  • Gale Sondergaard
  • David Ogden Stewart
  • Studs Terkel
  • Dalton Trumbo
  • Louis Untermeyer
  • Orson Welles
  • Michael Wilson
  • Richard Wright


Throughout the 1940s and 1950s America was overwhelmed with concerns about the threat of communism growing in Eastern Europe and China. Capitalizing on those concerns, a young Senator named Joseph McCarthy made a public accusation that more than two hundred “card-carrying” communists had infiltrated the United States government. Though eventually his accusations were proven to be untrue, and he was censured by the Senate for unbecoming conduct, his zealous campaigning ushered in one of the most repressive times in 20th-century American politics.

While the House Un-American Activities Committee had been formed in 1938 as an anti-Communist organ, McCarthy’s accusations heightened the political tensions of the times. Known as McCarthyism, the paranoid hunt for infiltrators was notoriously difficult on writers and entertainers, many of whom were labeled communist sympathizers and were unable to continue working. Some had their passports taken away, while others were jailed for refusing to give the names of other communists. The trials, which were well publicized, could often destroy a career with a single unsubstantiated accusation. Among those well-known artists accused of communist sympathies or called before the committee were Dashiell Hammett, Waldo Salt, Lillian Hellman, Lena Horne, Paul Robeson, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Chaplin and Group Theatre members Clifford Odets, Elia Kazan, and Stella Adler. In all, three hundred and twenty artists were blacklisted, and for many of them this meant the end of exceptional and promising careers.

McCarthyism Index - History

Senator Joseph McCarthy's Speech on Communists in the State Department (excerpts)
Digital History ID 3633

Author: Joseph McCarthy

Annotation: In February of 1950, Joseph McCarthy gave this speech warning of communism in America. He gave specific names of people working within the State Department and listed their crimes. Those individuals lost their jobs, even though McCarthy was never able to give any further evidence to prove their guilt.

Document: Ladies and Gentlemen:

Tonight as we celebrate the 141st birthday of one of the great men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world. As we celebrate the birth of this man, who with his whole heart and soul hated war, I would like to be able to speak of peace in our time, of war being outlawed, and of worldwide disarmament. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Five years after a world war has been won, men's hearts should anticipate a long peace, and men's minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period -- for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of the Cold War. This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile armed camps -- a time of a great armaments race. Today we can almost physically hear the mutterings and rumblings of an invigorated god of war. You can see it, feel it, and hear it all the way from the hills of Indochina, from the shores of Formosa right over into the very heart of Europe itself. .

Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time. And, ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down -- they are truly down.

Lest there be any doubt that the time has been chosen, let us go directly to the leader of communism today -- Joseph Stalin. Here is what he said -- not back in 1928, not before the war, not during the war -- but two years after the last war was ended: "To think that the communist revolution can be carried out peacefully, within the framework of a Christian democracy, means one has either gone out of one's mind and lost all normal understanding, or has grossly and openly repudiated the communist revolution."

And this is what was said by Lenin in 1919, which was also quoted with approval by Stalin in 1947: "We are living," said Lenin, "not merely in a state but in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with Christian states for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. And before that end supervenes, a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois states will be inevitable."

Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone here tonight who is so blind as to say that the war is not on? Can there be anyone who fails to realize that the communist world has said, "The time is now" -- that this is the time for the showdown between the democratic Christian world and the communist atheistic world? Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long.

Six years ago, at the time of the first conference to map out peace -- Dumbarton Oaks -- there was within the Soviet orbit 180 million people. Lined up on the anti-totalitarian side there were in the world at that time roughly 1.625 billion people. Today, only six years later, there are 800 million people under the absolute domination of Soviet Russia -- an increase of over 400 percent. On our side, the figure has shrunk to around 500 million. In other words, in less than six years the odds have changed from 9 to 1 in our favor to 8 to 5 against us. This indicates the swiftness of the tempo of communist victories and American defeats in the Cold War. As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, "When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be because of enemies from without but rather because of enemies from within." The truth of this statement is becoming terrifyingly clear as we see this country each day losing on every front.

At war's end we were physically the strongest nation on Earth and, at least potentially, the most powerful intellectually and morally. Ours could have been the honor of being a beacon in the desert of destruction, a shining, living proof that civilization was not yet ready to destroy itself. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably and tragically to arise to the opportunity.

The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful, potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this nation. It has not been the less fortunate or members of minority groups who have been selling this nation out, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer -- the finest homes, the finest college education, and the finest jobs in government we can give.

This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been worst.

Now I know it is very easy for anyone to condemn a particular bureau or department in general terms. Therefore, I would like to cite one rather unusual case -- the case of a man who has done much to shape our foreign policy.

When Chiang Kai-shek was fighting our war, the State Department had in China a young man named John S. Service. His task, obviously, was not to work for the communization of China. Strangely, however, he sent official reports back to the State Department urging that we torpedo our ally Chiang Kai-shek and stating, in effect, that communism was the best hope of China.

Later, this man -- John Service -- was picked up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for turning over to the communists secret State Department information. Strangely, however, he was never prosecuted. However, Joseph Grew, the undersecretary of state, who insisted on his prosecution, was forced to resign. Two days after, Grew's successor, Dean Acheson, took over as undersecretary of state, this man -- John Service -- who had been picked up by the FBI and who had previously urged that communism was the best hope of China, was not only reinstated in the State Department but promoted and finally, under Acheson, placed in charge of all placements and promotions. Today, ladies and gentlemen, this man Service is on his way to represent the State Department and Acheson in Calcutta -- by far and away the most important listening post in the Far East.

Now, let's see what happens when individuals with communist connections are forced out of the State Department. Gustave Duran, who was labeled as, I quote, "a notorious international communist," was made assistant secretary of state in charge of Latin American affairs. He was taken into the State Department from his job as a lieutenant colonel in the Communist International Brigade. Finally, after intense congressional pressure and criticism, he resigned in 1946 from the State Department -- and, ladies and gentlemen, where do you think he is now? He took over a high-salaried job as chief of Cultural Activities Section in the office of the assistant secretary-general of the United Nations. .

This, ladies and gentlemen, gives you somewhat of a picture of the type of individuals who have been helping to shape our foreign policy. In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, is thoroughly infested with communists.

I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy.

One thing to remember in discussing the communists in our government is that we are not dealing with spies who get 30 pieces of silver to steal the blueprints of new weapons. We are dealing with a far more sinister type of activity because it permits the enemy to guide and shape our policy.

This brings us down to the case of one Alger Hiss, who is important not as an individual anymore but rather because he is so representative of a group in the State Department. It is unnecessary to go over the sordid events showing how he sold out the nation which had given him so much. Those are rather fresh in all of our minds. However, it should be remembered that the facts in regard to his connection with this international communist spy ring were made known to the then-Undersecretary of State Berle three days after Hitler and Stalin signed the Russo-German Alliance Pact. At that time one Whittaker Chambers -- who was also part of the spy ring -- apparently decided that with Russia on Hitler's side, he could no longer betray our nation to Russia. He gave Undersecretary of State Berle -- and this is all a matter of record -- practically all, if not more, of the facts upon which Hiss' conviction was based.

Undersecretary Berle promptly contacted Dean Acheson and received word in return that Acheson, and I quote, "could vouch for Hiss absolutely" -- at which time the matter was dropped. And this, you understand, was at a time when Russia was an ally of Germany. This condition existed while Russia and Germany were invading and dismembering Poland, and while the communist groups here were screaming "warmonger" at the United States for their support of the Allied nations.

Again in 1943, the FBI had occasion to investigate the facts surrounding Hiss' contacts with the Russian spy ring. But even after that FBI report was submitted, nothing was done.

Then, late in 1948 -- on August 5 -- when the Un-American Activities Committee called Alger Hiss to give an accounting, President Truman at once issued a presidential directive ordering all government agencies to refuse to turn over any information whatsoever in regard to the communist activities of any government employee to a congressional committee.

Incidentally, even after Hiss was convicted, it is interesting to note that the president still labeled the expose of Hiss as a "red herring."

If time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief adviser at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally . and when, according to the secretary of state, Hiss and Gromyko drafted the report on the conference.

According to the then-Secretary of State Stettinius, here are some of the things that Hiss helped to decide at Yalta: (1) the establishment of a European High Commission (2) the treatment of Germany -- this you will recall was the conference at which it was decided that we would occupy Berlin with Russia occupying an area completely encircling the city, which as you know, resulted in the Berlin airlift which cost 31 American lives (3) the Polish question (4) the relationship between UNRRA and the Soviet (5) the rights of Americans on control commissions of Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary (6) Iran (7) China -- here's where we gave away Manchuria (8) Turkish Straits question (9) international trusteeships (10) Korea.

Of the results of this conference, Arthur Bliss Lane of the State Department had this to say: "As I glanced over the document, I could not believe my eyes. To me, almost every line spoke of a surrender to Stalin."

As you hear this story of high treason, I know that you are saying to yourself, "Well, why doesn't the Congress do something about it?" Actually, ladies and gentlemen, one of the important reasons for the graft, the corruption, the dishonesty, the disloyalty, the treason in high government positions -- one of the most important reasons why this continues -- is a lack of moral uprising on the part of the 140 million American people. In the light of history, however, this is not hard to explain.

It is the result of an emotional hangover and a temporary moral lapse which follows every war. It is the apathy to evil which people who have been subjected to the tremendous evils of war feel. As the people of the world see mass murder, the destruction of defenseless and innocent people, and all of the crime and lack of morals which go with war, they become numb and apathetic. It has always been thus after war. However, the morals of our people have not been destroyed. They still exist. This cloak of numbness and apathy has only needed a spark to rekindle them. Happily, this spark has finally been supplied.

As you know, very recently the secretary of state proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes -- of being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust. The secretary of state, in attempting to justify his continued devotion to the man who sold out the Christian world to the atheistic world, referred to Christ's Sermon on the Mount as a justification and reason therefore, and the reaction of the American people to this would have made the heart of Abraham Lincoln happy. When this pompous diplomat in striped pants, with a phony British accent, proclaimed to the American people that Christ on the Mount endorsed communism, high treason, and betrayal of a sacred trust, the blasphemy was so great that it awakened the dormant indignation of the American people.

He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of national honesty and decency in government.

Sarah Lawrence Under Fire: The Attacks on Academic Freedom During the McCarthy Era

Louis Budenz’s article, “Do Colleges Have to Hire Red Professors?” was the first publication listing Sarah Lawrence College as hiring Communist professors. Soon after this article was published, the Americanism Committee of the American Legion began targeting Sarah Lawrence faculty members. November, 1951. (Harold Taylor Papers, Sarah Lawrence Archives)

In 1938, in response to attacks on academic freedom, Sarah Lawrence College’s Board of Trustees passed a Statement on Academic Freedom. Little did they know that only a decade later, nationwide assaults on academic freedom would become commonplace with the onset of the “McCarthy Era.” Beginning in 1949, a national debate focused on attempts to dismiss Communist Party members from teaching positions and implementing loyalty oaths for faculty at colleges and universities. This marked the beginning of what is now referred to as McCarthyism. The attacks on Sarah Lawrence began with the publication of The American Legion Magazine article by Louis Budenz in November, 1951 naming Sarah Lawrence, along with other colleges and universities across the country, for employing “subversive” and “communist” faculty members. Following this article, in late 1951, the newly formed Americanism Committee of the Westchester County American Legion began accusing Sarah Lawrence faculty members of being communists. In response to these preliminary attacks, the Board of Trustees reaffirmed the college’s 1938 Statement on Academic Freedom. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning. These attacks from the Legion would continue throughout the 1950s.

During the McCarthy era, Sarah Lawrence College was often referred to as the Little Red Schoolhouse by the American Legion and other anti- communist organizations. Undated. (Harold Taylor Papers)

On a regular basis, the Legion would present a report from the Americanism Committee targeting individual faculty members at Sarah Lawrence whom they believed to be communists. The reports began with accusations that Joseph Barnes was a communist. The Legion went on to target nearly a dozen faculty members at Sarah Lawrence. Sarah Lawrence was not alone in this fight. The Legion assaulted faculty at other major educational institutions in the country including Amherst, Harvard, Wellesley and the University of Chicago. In addition, the Legion brought these charges to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (also known as the Jenner Committee for Senator William E. Jenner of Indiana who chaired the committee). It became the focus of this committee to accuse members of the teaching community of communist and subversive activities. As a result, numerous faculty members were called before the Senate Subcommittee.

“100 Things You Should Know about Communism and Education” is one example of a series of publications by the House Committee on Un-American Activities available to the public in 1951.

Support for the College, in response to these attacks and charges, came from various members of the community including residents of Bronxville, Yonkers and Eastchester, the American Civil Liberties Union, the students of Sarah Lawrence, as well as parents and alumnae/i. Throughout the ordeal, Harold Taylor and the Board of Trustees stood by their faculty and did their best to calm the effects of such attacks. The reaction by President Taylor and the Board of Trustees is considered by historians to be an exception, thereby attesting to Sarah Lawrence’s continued commitment to individualism.

Sarah Lawrence College Faculty Targeted By American Legion, US Senate

The American Legion and Senate Subcommittee targeted several members of the Sarah Lawrence faculty totaling 18 by the end of the 1950's. The following faculty, and former faculty, were accused of Communist affiliations or called before the Senate Subcommittee during the McCarthy era.

Paul Harvey Aron (1921-1991)

Questioned by the Senate Subcommittee in a March 20, 1953 closed session in which he invoked the Fifth Amendment. He resigned, as a result of the hearing, on April 8, 1953. In his defense, the Student Council passed a statement of support on April 2, 1953. Bard College faculty also sent a statement of support to Harold Taylor along with numerous letters from students.

Joseph Barnes (d.1970)

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New York Times, April, 1952.

Social Science Faculty, 1950-1952

Even though he was not called before the Senate Subcommittee under Jenner’s chairmanship, he did appear before the Senate Subcommittee under the chairmanship of Senator McCarran earlier in the 1940s. In addition, the American Legion launched a vicious attack on his alleged Communist affiliations stating that five witnesses identified him as a Soviet agent, one of which was Whittaker Chambers. No formal charges were ever brought against him.

In response to the American Legion, Barnes wrote a statement that was published in the New York Times in April, 1952 stating that he never supported nor belonged to the Communist Party. His students at Sarah Lawrence wrote a statement, published in the New York Times, in support of Barnes in April, 1952.

Adele Brebner (1897-1960)

Literature Faculty, 1930-1960

Called before the Senate Subcommittee sometime before October, 1953, but was ill at the time of the subpoena and was not called again. No further information is known.

Irving Goldman (1911-2002)

Anthropology Faculty, 1947-1981

Goldman appeared in an executive session of the Senate Subcommittee on March 20, 1953 and at a public hearing on April 1, 1953. Students wrote a statement through the Student Council in support of Goldman.

As reported in The Campus on April 13, 1953, four Sarah Lawrence students attended Irving Goldman's open hearing in Washington of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.

Madeleine Parker Grant (1895-1981)

Listed in a letter to Harold Taylor from the Senate Subcommittee, but was not actually called. No further information is known.

Horace Gregory (1898-1982)

Appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on March 20, 1953 in executive session in which he testified that he had never been a member of the Communist Party.

Bert James Loewenberg (1905-1974)

History Faculty, 1942-1971
Director of Center for Continuing Education, 1965-1969

Targeted, along with Harold Taylor, Esther Raushenbush and Helen Merrell Lynd, by the American Legion in 1956 for work with the Encampment for Citizenship at the Fieldston School. At the same time, the Legion accused Loewenberg of being involved in the “infamous Waldorf Peace Conference in New York City in 1949.” A subpoena was issued to Loewenberg by the Senate Subcommittee to appear in an executive session on March 20, 1953, but he could not be served since he was in England at the time. It is unclear whether he was subpoenaed again. In addition, Loewenberg was denied a Fulbright Fellowship twice, allegedly due to “loyalty issues.” Harold Taylor wrote letters to the Chair of the Board of Foreign Scholarships of the State Department, the board responsible for selecting Fulbright Fellows, protesting the rejections of Loewenberg. Eventually, in May 1960, he was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship after the American Historical Association called for a review of his case by the State Department.

Helen Merrell Lynd (1896-1982)

Sociology Faculty, 1929-1964

Attacked by the American Legion for being a member of various “communist-front organizations.” On March 20, 1953, Lynd appeared before the Senate Subcommittee in an executive session in which she informed them that she has never been a member of the Communist Party and does not know of any Communists on the Sarah Lawrence faculty.

Lois Barclay Murphy (1902-2003)

Psychology Faculty, 1928-1952

Appeared before the Senate Subcommittee in an executive session on March 20, 1953 in which she testified that she had never been a member of the Communist Party. She subsequently wrote a response to Senator Jenner in late March, 1953.

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)

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Muriel Rukeyser Faculty File

Literature Faculty, 1955-1967

Accused by the American Legion of Westchester in November, 1958 of being involved with various Communist organizations. In response to the charges made by the American Legion, Muriel Rukeyser released a statement to the public on November 18, 1958.

Marc Slonim (1894-1976)

Literature Faculty, 1943-1962
Director of Foreign Studies, 1962-1968
European Consultant for Foreign Studies, 1968-1976

Appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on March 20, 1953 in executive session in which he informed the committee that he had never been a member of the Communist Party and did not know of any Communists on the Sarah Lawrence faculty.

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Charles Trinkaus (1911-1999)

In May, 1952, the American Legion attacked Trinkaus for sponsoring the World Peace Conference in 1949 and being associated with the Jefferson School of Social Science. On June 4, 1953 he appeared before the Senate Subcommittee in which he informed the Committee that he was not currently a member of the Communist Party, but invoked the Fifth Amendment about his former membership. The public hearing set up after this was postponed indefinitely.

Former Sarah Lawrence Faculty Accused

Mary Dublin (Barnard College Class of 1930) yearbook photo from Barnard College. (From The Mortarboard 1930, p. 126. Credit: Barnard College Archives).

Mary Dublin Keyserling (1910-1997)

Economics Faculty, 1933-1938

Accused, along with her husband, Leon Keyserling, by Senator McCarthy directly, of being a member of an “unlimited number of” Communist-front organizations in February, 1952. At the time of the accusation, Dublin was no longer on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College. Her career after Sarah Lawrence included work at the National Consumers League and in the House Committee on National Defense Migration.

Genevieve Taggard (1894-1948)

Poetry and Literature Faculty, 1935-1946

Accused, posthumously, of being a Communist.

Oliver S. Loud (dates unknown)

Accused by the American Legion in May, 1952 of being a Communist.

Horace Grenell (1909-?)

Accused by the American Legion in May, 1952 of being a communist due to his affiliation with the Jefferson School of Social Science. At the time, he was no longer a member of the Sarah Lawrence faculty.

Mitchell Grayson (1913-?)

Consultant in Radio, 1948-1949

Attacked by the American Legion in May, 1952 for contributing to the Daily Worker and of signing communist petitions in 1939 and 1940. The Senate Subcommittee requested that he appear in an executive session on March 20, 1953, but since he was no longer a member of the Sarah Lawrence faculty at the time, he was not subpoenaed.

Jean Trepp (1909-1998)

Economics Faculty, 1932-1945

Requested to appear in an executive session of the Senate Subcommittee on March 20, 1953, but was no longer with Sarah Lawrence College at the time.

Faculty Responds To Accusations

Students Fight Back

(Photograph by Charles Trinkaus Photograph Collection)

Beginning in 1951, with the attacks on Sarah Lawrence College and its faculty by the Westchester County American Legion, Sarah Lawrence students immediately responded in favor of their beloved faculty. Not only did the students, individually and collectively through the Student Council, publish statements supporting the faculty and the College (in both The Campus and The New York Times), but they also remained aware of the ever-changing political scene by becoming active in national politics. Students invited various personalities related to the defense of academic freedom to speak at the College during the 1950s. The staff of The Campus printed articles in every issue updating students on the attacks. In addition, students barraged President Harold Taylor with letters in support of the faculty members targeted.

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In response to Harold Taylor’s address to the students and faculty at the opening of Spring Term, March 31, 1953, students Helene Lyon, Elise Glazier, and Margaret (Dougy) Williamson wrote to President Taylor in support of his “fight for freedom.” (Harold Taylor Papers)

In November, 1954, as a result of discussions among students and faculty on the Senate debates of November, 225 members of the faculty, student body, and administration signed this petition to expel, or censure, Senator McCarthy. The 225 represented approximately 75% of the faculty and 42% of the student body.

(Photographer unknown Photograph collection)

On February 21, 1953, the College held the Intercollegiate Student Conference on Democracy and Communism in the Modern World. The conference grew out of the results of a Student Council questionnaire in late 1952 requesting topics in which faculty and students of other colleges could meet and share ideas. Over 42 colleges sent delegates to the conference along with over 100 Sarah Lawrence students bringing conference participation up to 350. In this image, a participant speaks from the audience.

(Student Life Subject Files)

One year after the College held the Intercollegiate Student Conference on Democracy and Communism in the Modern World, the College held a second Intercollegiate Conference, this time on the Nature of Academic Freedom. Held on February 27, 1954, over 45 colleges and universities were represented. The conference tackled such topics as Freedom and the Arts, Freedom and Education, Freedom and Politics, and Freedom and Religion.

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(Photographer unknown Photograph Collection)

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(The Campus, April 13, 1953, pg. 1, Sarah Lawrence Archives)

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(The Campus, March 10, 1954, Pg. 3, Sarah Lawrence Archives)

Not only were Sarah Lawrence students interested in McCarthyism and its effects, but they also were very active in the general political arena. Here are a number of students who supported the re-election of President Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon in the mid-1950s.

Image 2 shows an example of one of the many editorials in The Campus on the subject of McCarthyism. This editorial announces the support of The Campus of those who invoke the Fifth Amendment during hearings.

Image 3 is one example of a satirical approach to the impact McCarthyism was having on the College campus. This article was published in The Campus on March 10, 1954.

Community, Parents, and Alumnae/i React

Community Shows Support for the College

In response to the American Legion’s attacks on Sarah Lawrence College, the Bronxville and Yonkers communities fought back to restore the College’s integrity. Most notably, along with the spontaneous formation of the Citizens’ Committee of Bronxville and Yonkers in February, 1952, 175 citizens of Bronxville, Yonkers, and Eastchester signed a petition challenging the Legion’s right to investigate the College. Despite assaults from individual members of the community and the American Legion, the communities of Yonkers and Bronxville, as a whole, supported the College throughout the ordeal. Individual members of the Legion, including Reverend Hohly, a prominent figure in Westchester County, argued that the attacks had gone far enough and should be stopped unless concrete evidence was found.

Nationally, the College was recognized for its efforts to combat the attacks on academic freedom. In April, 1952, the American Civil Liberties Union awarded the College a citation for a “powerful effort in behalf of academic freedom.” In addition, the American Association of University Professors commended the Sarah Lawrence College administration, along with other colleges, for “supporting faculty members when they were under accusation” in 1956. Fellow faculty members at Bard College passed a resolution in support of the Sarah Lawrence faculty members called before the Senate Subcommittee.

Alumnae/i Magazine, Fall 1951.

Parents and Alumnae/i Respond

Parents and alumnae/i of the College responded to the crisis by offering their support through letters to Harold Taylor and covering the issues in the Alumnae/i Magazine . In return, the College kept the parents and alumnae/i well-informed of the current events through memos sent by President Taylor. At the annual Open Session in February, 1952, parents and friends “questioned the ways in which they could help the College meet attacks on academic freedom. Mrs. Raushenbush responded that ‘the main job is not to be frightened but to continue with the educational work we are doing at the College.’”

Helen Whiting Little, class of 1945, sent Harold Taylor this letter of support on April 22, 1953. It is one of many letters from alumnae/i who wrote to show their support for the College’s response to the American Legion’s attacks and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee’s accusations.

President Taylor and the Trustees Stand Behind the Faculty

Harold Taylor, President of the College (1945-1959)

During Harold Taylor’s tenure at Sarah Lawrence College, he spent much of his time combating attacks on College faculty from the American Legion and the Senate Subcommittee. Throughout the ordeal, he kept the Board of Trustees, faculty, students, alumnae/i, and parents of students well-informed of the events and the consequences. He consistently supported the faculty when they were attacked.

Trustee Committee on Academic Freedom, December 24, 1951. (Sarah Lawrence Archives)

Taylor fought hard to keep Congress and outside non-educational agencies, such as the American Legion, out of the classroom. He believed it was not their place to judge the merits of a teacher on whether or not they were communists. Not only did Taylor support his own college and faculty, but he became a national figure in the fight for academic freedom. Before Sarah Lawrence became a target, he was well known for his stand on academic freedom. He traveled across the country lecturing on the importance of maintaining freedom in educational institutions as well as writing numerous articles on the subject. Taylor was seen as a prominent figure in the fight for academic freedom across the nation and was exceptional in his support of his faculty in these difficult times.

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Harrison Tweed, member of the Board of Trustees (1940-1954, 1960-1965), Chairman of the Board (1946-1954), Honorary Trustee (1965-1969), and Acting President of the College (1959-1960)

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The Board of Trustees at the Annual Spring Meeting, May 21, 1951. Standing (left to right): Harrison Tweed, Anne Hobler, William V. Lawrence II, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Walter Rothschild, Esther Raushenbush, Charles Sperry Andrews, Harold Taylor, Charles P. Curtis, Jr., Lloyd Garrison, Francis Keppel. Seated (left to right): Helen Merrell Lynd, Burton P. Fowler, Peggy Thayer Talbott, Mary B. Ladd, Barbara Smith Abramson, Faith Ziesing.

The Board of Trustees also remained vigilant in their support of the faculty and, through the Trustee Committee on Academic Freedom adopted the revised policy statement. There was constant communication between the Board and President Taylor about attacks on faculty and the College. An effort was made to come to decisions jointly. Like Harold Taylor, the Board of Trustees is considered unique in its approach to the attacks on academic freedom on the college campus.

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The Campus, January 30, 1952

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(Harold Taylor Papers, Sarah Lawrence Archives)

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(Harold Taylor Papers, Sarah Lawrence Archives)

January 30, 1952, the College Board of Trustees released a letter for publication in The Campus that included a copy of the policy statement on academic freedom they had developed in response to criticism and attacks from the Westchester County American Legion.

On March 1, 1949, before any of the trouble began at Sarah Lawrence College, Harold Taylor appeared on a broadcast of Town Meeting on the topic, "Should Communists Be Allowed to Teach in Our Colleges?" Images 2 and 3 show the flyer and partial transcript from the broadcast.

President Harold Taylor with Sarah Lawrence students, 1952 (Photograph Collection)

“I have one last thing to say. I believe that the most important possession we have at Sarah Lawrence College is our political and intellectual independence and our freedom to carry out a democratic educational program. We can only preserve this independence and this freedom if we all stand together as students and faculty against the attacks on this freedom from whatever quarter they may come.”

Harold Taylor, All-Student Meeting, November 20, 1951

This quotation from Harold Taylor, which summarizes Taylor's stand on the issue of academic freedom is from a flyer entitled, "To Safeguard These Rights. " by the Bureau on Academic Freedom.

 "There are a great many groups outside our colleges which would like to control the minds of teachers and students by doctrines and dogmas decided upon by themselves. If our schools and colleges are to develop a strong and robust youth, able to think and act democratically, we must resist with all our might any attempt on the part of others to take away our rights and responsibilities as educators. The teachers scholars, scientists, and educators and those to whom the making of educational policy belongs -- they are the ones who must decide the issues of academic freedom, without interference by those whose philosophy is based not upon tested knowledge and patient enquiry but upon fear, anxiety and dogmatism."

—President Harold Taylor, "To Safeguard These Rights. " Undated

Two examples of "hate mail" received by President Taylor and the College, 1954. (Harold Taylor Papers)

Text of top card: “This is sure a great Country when you have to sit back and have a Pinko like you insult a man like Senator McCarthy who has done more for America than you will ever do. Keep it up stinko you pinko, your time will come also. (signed) Just a real American”

Text of bottom card: “Dr. Taylor: Just read your idiotic mouthings [sic] about a great American, Senator McCarthy. It is you, and men like you, who have tried to let this country go Communist. Educated morons – non-thinking at all times. Why don’t you read “McCarthy and his enemies,” by a thinking man, “Wm. F. Buckley” or are you afraid to read it, you foppish excuse for a man . Use your head instead of your mouth. (signed) M. Lawrence”

In an address to the students and faculty at the opening of Spring Term, March 31, 1953 President Taylor delivered the following remarks:

“We are a close and happy community here. We are knit together in a common loyalty to each other, to our College, and to the United States. We are varied in our attitudes, we have strong opinions on practically everything. We have supporters of Taft, of Eisenhower, of Stevenson, of Erich Fromm, of Freud, of existentialism, of Episcopalianism, of Judaism. We also have supporters of the Stork Club, of Fort Lauderdale, Danny Kaye, of Yale, of Harvard, and of City College. It may even be said that at times, when each of us is at his worst, individuals may actively dislike each other and despise each other’s opinions. This too is permitted. But underlying it all there is a sense of unity, and of belonging here, and of believing in each other, which marks this College and this community as a special place. In a real sense, we are the inheritors of the liberal tradition which makes the Western world a unity. We exist to pass on to the future the values of love, affection, understanding, reason, generosity and tolerance, at a time in which these values are being undermined both by the communists, by the Soviet Union, and by those who join with Senator McCarthy in attacking men of good will, probity and loyalty to truth.

“Liberalism means, not that you must be a liberal it means that whether you are a liberal, a conservative or a radical, you believe in the application of human intelligence to human problems, you believe in judging men by their acts and by what they say, not by what they are merely accused of doing and of saying. It also means that you have faith in honest people whom you know well and who know you.

"We are in for some trouble about all this. So is Vassar, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and every other college or university where there are men and women who think, teach and act according to their own convictions. But the struggle, here and elsewhere, is worth while, in fact it is the most worth while of all. It is part of the world struggle for independence and courage against ignorance and fear. I know from my past two weeks of experience with my colleagues here, whom I have come to love and admire more than I can say, that we can win it, that we can keep our integrity inviolate, that we can make our friends around the country understand why we are doing what we are doing. I will tell you at any time everything I know which you need to know about your College and its work. I only ask in return that you trust us – your teachers, your trustees – and yourselves, to judge the good and the bad, the true and the false, when they are put to such an intensive public test.”

-Harold Taylor, Address to students and faculty at the opening of Spring Term, March 31, 1953

The Era of McCarthyism, 1950-1954

Wisconsin. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy speaking. Although unidentified, the photograph probably documents an appearance in Fort Atkinson as the image was donated by the Hoard Museum located in that city. At Fort Atkinson, McCarthy charged that a "close relative" of an editor of the Milwaukee Journal and two members of the paper's staff had contributed funds to the Alger Hiss defense fund. View the original source document: WHI 8006

1950, February 9. McCarthy delivers speech in Wheeling, West Virginia and displays a list of 205 Communists in the State Department apparently harbored by Communist sympathizers in high places. Because his charges seem specific, McCarthy wins national headlines.

1950, March 8. Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee headed by Democrat Millard Tydings begins hearings on McCarthy's charges. McCarthy skillfully uses the committee to win further public attention. He later campaigns for Tydings' defeat.

1950, March 21. McCarthy charges that Owen Lattimore, former State Department adviser on the Far East, is a top Russian agent. On April 20 testimony of Louis Budenz, former editor of the "Daily Worker," convinces many that McCarthy is correct.

1950, March 29. "Washington Post" editorial cartoonist Herbert Block (Herblock) coins the phrase "McCarthyism."

1950, June 25. Communist North Korea invades South Korea. President Truman sends in the Army and appoints Douglas MacArthur the supreme commander.

1950, November. McCarthy campaigns in 15 states in behalf of anti-Communist candidates. Conservatives' victories further increase his power and influence.

1951, April 11. President Truman relieves General MacArthur as supreme commander in Korea after the general repeatedly calls for an escalation of the war and invasion of mainland China. McCarthy and Republicans support MacArthur who returns home to great adulation.

1951, June 14. McCarthy criticizes former Secretary of State George C. Marshall in a Senate speech, declaring him an instrument of the Soviet conspiracy.

1951, September 28. Senator William Benton, a Democrat, testifies before the Gillette Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections calling for McCarthy's expulsion for many instances of deceit and misconduct. McCarthy fails to cooperate with the committee.

1952 October 3. Antipathy of Dwight Eisenhower toward McCarthy becomes apparent during Presidential campaign stops in Wisconsin.

1952, November 4. McCarthy is reelected, having defeating Len Schmitt in the Republican primary and Thomas Fairchild in the general election. McCarthy claims that the voters of Wisconsin have endorsed his drive against Communist subversion.

1953, January 20. As a member of the new Republican majority, McCarthy becomes chair of Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, previously an innocuous post. He skillfully uses the committee to further his campaign to expose Communists in government and draw personal attention.

McCarthyism Index - History

Welcome to Mr. McCarthy's U.S. History Class!

US History and Government is a Regents level course, and follows the NYS Regents curriculum. The class will take us to the very foundations of our country, seeking to shed light on today by examining how society and our government developed throughout its history. This is not a lecture course! Together as a class we will look at history from multiple sources and in several forms: art, literature, photos, film, etc. Our focus is to stimulate group discussions that will force us to think critically about our history and government and how they define us as a nation. In addition, we will be devoting time to developing reading, writing, and research skills.

We are going to begin with the colonial and constitutional foundations of the United States and explore the government structure and functions as written in the Constitution. We will also explore the development of the nation and the political, social, and economic factors that led to the challenges our nation faced in the Civil War. There will be a focus on industrialization, urbanization, and their accompanying problems and legacies of those phenomena. The course is going to track, and discover how our nation became a world power, the impact of the two world wars of the 20th century on that rise, and the Cold War. To finish of the year we are going to explore the expansion of the federal government to today, evolving social beliefs and behaviors and how our nation and government has met that evolution, and the nation’s place in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world.

Prelude to McCarthyism: The Making of a Blacklist

The so-called "Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations" (AGLOSO) was one of the most central and widely publicized aspects of the post–World War II Red Scare, which has popularly become known as "McCarthyism."

AGLOSO burst into the American consciousness in December 1947, when it was published in connection with President Harry S. Truman's "loyalty program," more than two years before Senator Joseph McCarthy made his first publicized allegations of widespread Communist infiltration of the American government in early 1950.

It originated with President Truman's Executive Order 9835 of March 21, 1947, which required that all federal civil service employees be screened for "loyalty." The order specified that one criterion to be used in determining that "reasonable grounds exist for belief that the person involved is disloyal" would be a finding of "membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association" with any organization determined by the attorney general to be "totalitarian, Fascist, Communist or subversive" or advocating or approving the forceful denial of constitutional rights to other persons or seeking "to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means."

Although officially the only purpose of AGLOSO was to provide guidance for federal civil service loyalty determinations, AGLOSO, once published, was quickly adopted by a wide variety of public and private groups, including state and local governments, the military, defense contractors, hotels, the Treasury Department (in making tax-exemption determinations), and the State Department (in making passport and deportation decisions), to deny employment or otherwise discriminate against listed organizations or persons alleged to be affiliated with them.

As various scholars wrote contemporaneously and subsequently, AGLOSO, which was massively publicized in the media, became what amounted to "an official black list." In the public mind it came to have "authority as the definitive report on subversive organizations," understood as a "proscription of the treasonable activity of the listed organizations" and the "litmus test for distinguishing between loyalty and disloyal organizations and individuals."

The influence of the list could be very far-reaching. For example, the November 1956 issue of Elks Magazine carried an article entitled "What the Attorney General's List Means," which began by accurately noting that "there are few Americans who have not heard of 'the Attorney General's subversive list'" and concluded by declaring, "There is no excuse for any American citizen becoming affiliated with a group on the Attorney General's list today."

Although AGLOSO itself was massively publicized, the Justice Department and other agencies of the federal government released little or no information about key aspects of the list, including how it was compiled, what criteria were used to list groups, why the decision was made to publish the list, and why listed organizations were not provided with any notice, charges, or hearings before they were designated.

Moreover, when AGLOSO was first published in late 1947, only the briefest of references were made to the fact that the government had been maintaining in secret an AGLOSO to aid in screening federal employees for loyalty ever since 1940.

The publication of the list transformed what was supposedly a tool solely designed to help screen federal employees for loyalty into what effectively became an official government proscription blacklist, whose influence spread across American society, severely damaged or destroyed the listed organizations, and cast a general pall over freedom of association and speech in the United States.

This article seeks to flesh out how the Truman administration AGLOSO was "made," drawing upon previously unreleased governmental records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act as well as upon other available sources, such as obscure congressional hearings.

Between 1940 and 1943 the federal government had screened federal employees for "loyalty" using a secret AGLOSO. The original legal basis for this list was the August 1939 Hatch Act, which banned from government employment any person who held "membership in any political party or organization which advocated the overthrow of our constitutional form of government in the United States." Similar provisions were regularly included thereafter in congressional appropriations acts. Pursuant to these congressional mandates, Attorney General Francis Biddle created a temporary interdepartmental committee to investigate alleged subversion within the federal government. Biddle and the Dickinson Committee (named for Special Assistant to the Attorney General Edwin Dickinson), which he created in early 1942, designated 47 organizations by May 1942 as falling within the Hatch Act criteria, membership in which raised a "flag" with regard to federal employees or applicants for federal jobs.

This first AGLOSO was compiled in secret, and the listed organizations were not informed or given any opportunity to challenge the listings. However, a brief reference to the secret AGLOSO was contained in a Federal Bureau of Investigation memorandum that was published as part of a report that Biddle made to Congress in September 1942.

Without naming the organizations, beyond the Communist Party (CP) and the pro-Nazi German American Bund, whose inclusion under the Hatch Act mandate had been previously announced by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the FBI document reported that the Dickinson Committee had designated 47 organizations as coming "within the purview" of the congressional mandates, including "12 Communist or Communist 'front' organizations 2 American Fascist organizations 8 Nazi organizations 4 Italian fascist organizations and 21 Japanese organizations."

The major national news media barely mentioned the Biddle AGLOSO, however, and even after Chairman Martin Dies of the House Committee on Un-American Activities placed leaked Justice Department memorandums concerning the designated Communist "front" organizations into the Congressional Record on September 24, 1942, the names of the groups were not reported in the mainstream press. Therefore, although the Justice Department, in publishing the first Truman AGLOSO in December 1947 noted that 47 of the approximately 90 organizations on its list had been previously designated by the Roosevelt administration as "subversive" for "use in connection with consideration of employee loyalty," most Americans were probably completely unaware that the federal government had previously been using such listing.

At the end of World War II, a widespread belief that good relations with the Soviet Union would continue briefly diminished the concern over alleged Communist and other subversive infiltration of the federal government that had led to the Hatch Act and the Biddle AGLOSO. In October 1945 the Gaston Committee (named for Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Herbert Gaston and created in early 1943 to replace the Dickinson Committee) recommended that it be abolished and its functions turned over to the U.S. Civil Service Commission. In December 1945 the new attorney general, Tom Clark, drafted a proposed executive order to implement this recommendation.

However, the rapid development of Cold War tensions after 1945 and concerns about possible Communist infiltration of the government soon created a drastically changed political climate in the United States. President Truman in late 1946 appointed yet another commission to study governmental employee loyalty, which eventually led him to inaugurate a sweeping new federal loyalty program in March 1947.

The rapid, major deterioration in the civil liberties climate and the reemergence of the "subversives in government" issue that marked the period between the end of World War II and early 1947 was largely attributable to four intertwined and reinforcing factors that, due to space considerations and their extensive treatment in scholarly literature elsewhere, can only be briefly listed here:

  • the drastic postwar deterioration of relations with the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Cold War
  • a growing obsession with perceived dangers posed by internal subversion in general and Soviet and Communist Party espionage in particular, fueled by reports, some public and some held within the government, of Russian spy operations in North America, accompanied by a new Communist "hard" line that echoed general Cold War tensions
  • postwar economic tensions and frustrations in the United States, including massive inflation and a major strike wave in 1946, which fostered a general sense of anger and anxiety and
  • deliberate attempts to ignite a domestic Red Scare by a powerful coalition of American conservatives, notably the FBI, significant elements in the business community, the Catholic Church, and, especially, an increasingly politically desperate Republican Party.

Amid the growing domestic and international anxieties of the 1946 congressional election year, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), now a permanent committee, investigated several alleged Communist "front" groups. A House Civil Service Committee (HCSC) subcommittee concluded, after brief mid-1946 hearings, that American security was threatened by the federal employment of persons of "questioned loyalty" and that a government commission was immediately required to establish a "complete and uniform" program to protect the government against "individuals whose primary loyalty is to governments other than our own."

During closed July 1946 hearings, CSC head Arthur Flemming told the HCSC subcommittee that, in the light of congressional passage of the 1939 Hatch Act and other legislation, the CSC had "no difficulty" in determining that Communist Party members or followers of the party "line," along with "persons actively associated with groups or organizations whose primary loyalty was to Nazi, Fascist or Japanese governments," should be barred from federal employment.

Flemming vigorously defended the CSC policy of not asking federal applicants about their association with certain organizations, including pro-Spanish loyalist groups, since, along with "some Communist Party liners," those "whom you and I would never in the world classify as anything but very good progressives or liberals" had supported the loyalists, including "undoubtedly plenty of people in the Government right now" viewed "as responsible leading progressives."

During his testimony, Flemming placed considerable emphasis on an April 1946 federal district court ruling, Friedman v. Schwellenbach, as upholding the CSC's approach to loyalty cases, including its use of the Communist Party "line" test as well as its reliance on membership in allegedly "subversive" organizations.

Meanwhile, Republicans made alleged Communist infiltration of the federal government their central theme during the 1946 congressional elections, bundling it together with attacks upon the Truman administration's economic record under the slogans of "Had enough?" and "communism vs. republicanism." Under the leadership of Republican National Chairman Carroll Reece, leading Republicans repeatedly made "anti-Communist" attacks upon Truman and the Democrats: thus Reece referred to the "pink puppets in control of the federal bureaucracy," while House Republican leader Joe Martin pledged to give priority to "cleaning out the Communists, their fellow travelers and parlor pinks from high positions in our Government." The election proved a smashing Republican victory, giving them control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1932.

On November 25, 1946, two weeks after the election, President Truman suddenly announced the creation of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty (TCEL) charged with making a sweeping study of federal loyalty programs. This news was reported on the New York Times front page under the heading, "President Orders Purge of Disloyal from U.S. Posts." The TCEL, consisting of representatives of six government departments under the chairmanship of Special Assistant to the Attorney General A. Devitt Vanech (a Justice Department official who was close to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover), was charged with determining federal loyalty standards and establishing procedures to remove or disqualify "any disloyal or subversive person" from federal service.

The timing of Truman's action, along with his request that the TCEL submit a report by February 1, leaving it only two months to act, left both contemporary observers and historians with the conviction that he acted primarily to preempt further moves on the loyalty issue from the incoming Republican Congress. That Truman's concern about "subversive" infiltration of the government was likely more political than substantive is supported by his own contemporary statements and by White House counsel Clark Clifford's memoir. For example, on February 28, 1947, shortly before he instituted a sweeping new federal loyalty program based on the TCEL report, Truman wrote to Pennsylvania Governor George Earle, "People are very much wrought up about the Communist 'bugaboo' but I am of the opinion that the country is perfectly safe so far as Communism is concerned—we have too many sane people."

President Truman with adviser Clark Clifford, ca. 1949. Clifford later indicated in his memoir that Truman s loyalty program initiatives in 1947 were probably politically motivated, a response to election setbacks and pressure from J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General Tom Clark to expand the investigative authority of the FBI. (Truman Library)

In his 1991 memoir, Clifford declared that his "greatest regret" from his decades-long government service was his failure to "make more of an effort to kill the loyalty program at its inception, in 1946–47." Making clear that neither he nor Truman viewed Communist infiltration of the federal government as a serious problem, Clifford added that the 1946 elections "weakened" Truman but "emboldened [FBI Director] Hoover and his allies." The creation of the TCEL, Clifford wrote, resulted from "pressure" from Hoover and Attorney General Tom Clark, who "constantly urged the President to expand the investigative authority of the FBI."

The TCEL's investigation consisted of sending form letters to about 50 government agencies and hearing oral testimony from Clark, FBI Assistant Director D. Milton Ladd, Gaston Committee chairman Herbert Gaston, and HCSC members Edward Rees and J. Combs. The most important testimony appears to have come from Clark, who told the TCEL that while there were only two dozen Communists employed by the federal government, the "gravity of the problem" should not be "weighed in light of numbers but rather from the viewpoint of the serious threat which even one disloyal person constitutes to the security of the government."

Clark prepared for his testimony with the aid of a lengthy memorandum from Hoover, which stated that, under the Hatch Act, the FBI investigated a federal employee only if there were "definite and substantial indications that he is a member of one of the 47 organizations declared subversive by the Attorney General" or allegations that he personally advocated the overthrow of the government or belonged to an organization advocating such.

Aside from federal employees, Hoover told Clark that the FBI maintained files on those who, "after investigation," had been "shown" to be "members or, or affiliated with, 'subversive' organizations and in addition are either important or influential functionaries in such organizations or very active, influential, or longtime members thereof, or occupy important or strategic positions outside the 'subversive' organizations to which they belong."

The final TCEL report, submitted to Truman on March 2, clearly bore the mark of Clark and the FBI in its core conclusion that the possibility of even one disloyal employee justified a comprehensive federal loyalty program. The TCEL found that the presence within the government of "any disloyal or subversive persons, or the attempt by any such person to obtain employment, presents a problem of such importance that it must be dealt with vigorously and effectively."

The commission recommended that all 2 million federal employees, as well as all future applicants, be investigated, with the standard for "refusal of employment" to be that "on all evidence, reasonable grounds exist for believing that the person involved is disloyal to the government of the United States." The TCEL never defined the key terms "disloyal" or "reasonable grounds" but recommended that six types of activities should be considered in making such determinations:

  1. sabotage, espionage, and related activities
  2. treason or sedition
  3. advocacy of illegal overthrow of the government
  4. intentional and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information
  5. serving a foreign government in preference to the interests of the United States and
  6. "Membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association with any foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, group or combination of persons designated by the Attorney General as totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive, or as having adopted a policy of advocating or approving the commission of acts of force or violence to deny other persons their rights under the Constitution of the United States, or as seeking to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means."

The sixth, or AGLOSO, category, was clearly modeled on the Biddle AGLOSO, which was predicated on the 1939 Hatch Act. The TCEL report, however, which was published along with Truman's executive order establishing his loyalty program on March 21, 1947, never explicitly referred to the Biddle listing. It cited no legislative basis for AGLOSO and provided no guidelines concerning how it should be compiled, what standards should be used to determine which of the six distinct categories of suspect groups an organization should be placed in, or whether the list should be published.

Truman accepted the TCEL's major recommendation by signing Executive Order 9835 on March 21. It established a loyalty program requiring the investigation of all existing and prospective federal employees, irrespective of their responsibilities or ability to access sensitive information (during the World War II program, while all applicants were screened for loyalty, incumbent employees were investigated only if specific allegations against them surfaced).

One of the final barriers to Truman's issuance of his order was apparently eliminated by the Supreme Court's refusal on March 17 to hear an appeal in the Friedman case, in which the lower federal courts had seemingly given the government carte blanche to fire federal employees on wide-ranging loyalty grounds, including membership in dubious organizations and expressing sympathy with Communist Party policies. On March 19, a front-page Washington Post article reported the Court's inaction had paved the way for issuance of an order by Truman that federal officials had "been told for nearly a month" would be "issued momentarily" and would lay down a clear-cut Administration policy to cleanse the Government of disloyal employees."

Executive Order 9835 received nationwide front-page coverage on March 23, with screaming newspaper headlines such as "Purge of Disloyal on U.S. Pay Roll Ordered" and "Truman Orders Disloyal Employees Fired." The executive order declared that the loyalty of "the overwhelming majority of all Government employees is beyond question" and that "protection from unfounded accusations of disloyalty must be afforded" them. It added that the "presence within the Government service of any disloyal or subversive person constitutes a threat to our democratic processes" and required loyalty screenings of all present or prospective government employees, using the "reasonable grounds" standard and all of the specific loyalty criteria recommended by the TCEL, including the exact text of its suggested AGLOSO criteria.

The order also established a Loyalty Review Board (LRB), which would have the power to advise all federal agencies in making loyalty determinations, with the Justice Department directed to furnish the LRB with a listing of all organizations "which the Attorney General, after appropriate investigation and determination," designated as belonging to one of the six categories, and the LRB charged with disseminating "such information to all departments and agencies."

Each employee was granted the right to a hearing if "charged with being disloyal," as well as to written notice informing him "of the nature of the charges against him in sufficient detail, so that he will be enabled to prepare his defense." However, Truman's order specified that the charges need only be "as complete as, in the discretion of the employing department or agency, security considerations permit" and that, in submitting information to government agencies, investigative agencies such as the FBI could, at their discretion, "refuse to disclose the name of confidential informants," so long as they provided "sufficient information" so that the employing agencies could make "an adequate evaluation of the information furnished them." In practice, because most charges were based on FBI information and the FBI was generally unwilling to divulge its sources and methods or to make its agents or informants available for testimony, federal employees charged under the loyalty program were usually provided only extremely vague charges and not told the sources of allegations against them and thus were denied the right to cross-examine their (unknown) accusers.

Between the March 22, 1947, public announcement of the new loyalty program and the massively publicized December 1947 issuance of the first Truman AGLOSO, the Justice Department began compiling AGLOSO behind a thick curtain of secrecy that has still not yet been entirely lifted. Many relevant department documents have apparently been destroyed, were never transferred to the National Archives, or remain classified.

Nonetheless, the process by which the Truman AGLOSO was compiled can be at least partly patched together from surviving documents and statements made by Justice Department officials after the list was first published in December 1947. These sources suggest that the FBI and the Justice Department devoted massive resources to compiling AGLOSO under what was perceived as enormous political pressure, that both agencies felt overwhelmed by the task and that, ultimately, decisions were made in a unclear and time-pressured manner that paved the way for years of subsequent chaotic confusion and contradiction.

FBI documents obtained almost six decades later under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that on or about April 3, 1947, the bureau, in response to a March 27 request from Assistant Attorney General Vanech for a compilation of "organizations thought to be subversive," provided a list, without any accompanying write-ups, of 41 organizations which were "thought to be most dangerous within the purview of the recent Executive Order."

According to a March 29 internal FBI document, these included the Communist Party, 38 alleged "front" groups, the Nazi Party, and the Ku Klux Klan. In an April 3 memorandum to Attorney General Clark, the FBI reported that it had previously sent the Justice Department "complete reports" on the Communist Party and "all of the major Communist front organizations," totaling "some 50 organizations," a grouping that presumably overlapped with the 41 organizations listed in response to Vanech's request.

As the spring of 1947 turned into summer and fall, the FBI kept adding to its list of organizations for Justice Department AGLOSO consideration while increasingly groaning about the workload required for compiling the reports. By fall, with Hoover's agreement, the FBI quit preparing further proposed listings.

In originally setting an October deadline for AGLOSO determinations, the Justice Department was probably responding to pressure from government officials charged with implementing Truman's executive order. Thus, on April 24, CSC President Harry Mitchell wrote to Clark reporting that it was "essential" that the CSC be furnished the "list of organizations" designated under the order "promptly," so that agency loyalty boards could take "immediate action" under Truman's order. Clark added to the pressure by telling a reporter on May 31 that the AGLOSO list would probably be completed within a month.

Only the sketchiest information about the Justice Department's internal processes concerning AGLOSO determinations was made public when the first Truman list was published in early December, but additional relevant information survives in archival material and in congressional testimony by department officials. According to a November 24, 1947, letter from Clark to the LRB that was published in the press on December 5 along with the Truman AGLOSO, the department had "compiled all available data" concerning organizations under review for AGLOSO, but the FBI was the only specific source of information mentioned.

At a December congressional hearing, Raymond Whearty of the Criminal Division reported that Justice Department attorneys had thus far considered a total of 449 organizations for AGLOSO designation and that the 33 attorneys detailed to this mission had worked "full time and including in some instances Saturdays and Sundays" between September 19 and October 31.

According to 1952 Justice Department documents, in drawing up the first Truman AGLOSO, the department incorporated "in toto" the 1943 Biddle AGLOSO, without any review of Biddle's determinations and, in some cases, without any documentation about them. Thus, according to an October, 1952 memorandum by Assistant Attorney General Charles Murray, head of the Criminal Division, "no reexamination of [the Biddle] cases was made prior to their re-designation in 1947," and with regard to many of the "Fascist" organizations, "incomplete or no files whatever have been located in the department and the basis upon which they were designated originally is unknown, save as summary memoranda prepared at the time may still be in existence."

Touching on what would soon become one of the most controversial aspects of the "list," Clark related in December 1947 congressional testimony that making AGLOSO designations was "a hard job and it is a trying job for the reason that we did not have any hearings," a procedure "a little bit contrary to our usual conception of democratic process so I wanted to be careful about it. That is why I put these lawyers on it." The hearings issue, along with how to define criteria for designations and whether or not to publish AGLOSO, were all considered behind the scenes by the FBI and the Justice Department during 1947, but available documentation on these subjects is extremely fragmentary. A March 31 internal FBI memorandum from Assistant Director Louis Nichols, reporting the views of the FBI "executive conference" (most top bureau officials aside from Hoover), reported a "unanimous" recommendation that the bureau take "no position" concerning whether hearings should be granted before declaring an organization "subversive or not subversive."

However, an April 1, 1947, FBI memorandum from Nichols to top Hoover aide and Associate FBI Director Clyde Tolson reported that Hoover had "very grave doubts" about granting hearings. It added that Clark had been advised through a subordinate that he should give this matter "his most mature and considered reflection, bearing in mind that Attorney General Biddle did not give such hearings" and that, if hearings were granted, the attorney general "probably would not have time for any list and would be confronted with the possibility of facing court action, of having writs served upon him, of a constant round of bickering, vilification, pressure and abuse."

In a 1961 speech at Columbia University, Clark, by then a Supreme Court Justice, reported to 400 law students that he had reached the same conclusion, namely that if hearings were granted, organizations proposed for designation would (in the words of a reporter's summary of his presentation) "so contest and delay the list that it would never be gotten out." Clark added, "Perhaps we should, as I look back at it now, have given the parties an opportunity to be heard before we issued [AGLOSO]."

The fragmentary remaining evidence strongly suggests that Clark originally decided in the early spring of 1947 not to publish AGLOSO but subsequently changed his mind. According to Nichols's March 31 FBI memorandum reflecting the executive conference's views, a top Justice Department official had "rather excitedly" asked him about the FBI's views concerning AGLOSO publication in the light of "a lot of pressure" coming from two newspapers, and the conference had subsequently unanimously expressed "no objection" to public release of the list. In his April 1 memorandum to Tolson, Nichols reported that Hoover's view was that Clark would be obliged to transmit the list to the CSC as soon as it was completed and "that when that was done serious consideration would have to be given to the propriety of making such a list public."

However, Nichols added that a top Justice Department official he had spoken to had reported, after talking to Clark, that the latter "was going to go very slow and doubted whether he would give out such a list." Anonymous Justice Department officials were quoted in late March and mid-April press reports as indicating that the department would probably or definitely not publish AGLOSO for fear that such action would lead designated groups to go underground or change their names similarly, Assistant Attorney General Vanech was quoted by name in late March as declaring that the list would probably "never" be officially released.

Clark told reporters on May 10 that he was undecided whether or not to publish AGLOSO but then announced on May 31 that it would be published, although he added, "We don't want this to develop into a witch hunt."

Clark's own congressional testimony before HUAC on February 5, 1948, only two months after publication of the first Truman AGLOSO, clearly suggests that in fact the decision to publish AGLOSO was made as part of a deliberate campaign to destroy dissident organizations. Thus, Clark listed the "continuous study and public listing by the Attorney General of subversive organizations under the President's executive order" as part of an overall eight-point program designed to "isolate subversive movements in this country from effective interference with the body politic" and render them "completely ineffective as a fifth column."

Clark noted with approval that the Treasury Department, upon his recommendation, intended to withhold tax-exempt status from AGLOSO organizations, which he described as engaging in "propaganda activity of a subversive nature."

The existing documentary record concerning what criteria the Justice Department used to designate AGLOSO organizations is highly fragmentary. But the best evidence, above all the fact that department lawyers sporadically wrote lengthy memorandums on this subject for the next 25 years, indicates that the department had no clear and solid criteria for putting a group on the list.

In July 1947, Assistant Attorney General Theron Caudle sent Assistant to the Attorney General Douglas McGregor what he termed the "latest" AGLOSO standards prepared by the Criminal Division to determine if organizations were "subversive." Consisting of two double-spaced pages, the "organizational standards" included some relatively specific criteria, such as advocating the overthrow of the government and approving the use of force to deny others their constitutional rights, along with some extremely vague ones, such as "consistently opposing the enactment of, or advocating the repeal of laws and measures designed to strengthen and improve the security of the United States" and "closely cooperating with, supporting and furthering the aims of any subversive organization, association or combination of persons."

On July 24, 1947, McGregor was sent another set of proposed standards in a nine-page memorandum from special assistants to the attorney general David Edelstein and Joseph Duggan, which included both "broad general criteria" for AGLOSO listing as well as "specific criteria" for categorizing designated organizations (as seemed required by Truman's order), as "totalitarian," "fascist," "communist," or "subversive."

Edelstein and Duggan began by noting the difficulty of seeking to establish adequate AGLOSO criteria, as it was "believed" that they were "designed to be elastic and flexible" and not based on any allegations of "specific deeds detrimental to the United States" that made possible "ready detection," but rather intended to "embrace the vast area of political economic and social action which too often reside in the operation of the mind."

Such an approach, which clearly suggested that AGLOSO would be based on perceptions of what designated organizations "thought" rather than any specific harmful deeds they performed, would, the authors noted, be inherently "particularly imperfect" and "unfortunately limited in scope by human frailty." They added that their suggested criteria were "formulated on the assumption that their use will be restricted to the Attorney General and his subordinates and that they are not for publication."

Given their orientation, Edelstein and Duggan inevitably ended up with extraordinarily vague proposed standards. Thus, one of their suggested "broad general criteria" for designating organizations was an overall conclusion that the "actual principles" of an organization could be "deemed hostile or inimical to the American form of government, orderly democratic processes and the constitutional guarantee of individual liberty, so as to lead a person of reasonable prudence and discretion to conclude that such principles are opposed to or in contravention of the principles of the Constitution or laws or the United States."

There is no documentary evidence that the Justice Department ever adopted the Edelstein-Duggan proposals or any other criteria for designating AGLOSO organizations. In congressional testimony in July 1949, Attorney General Clark clearly suggested, however, the sins of AGLOSO organizations were those of the mind or of engaging in completely legal activities such as aiding Communist defense organizations, rather than those involving any illegal activities. He described AGLOSO as including groups that "clearly were organized for the purpose of fostering American policy favorable to the current policy of a foreign state others are designed to promote the defense of specific individuals or to serve generally as legal defense or legal aid groups for Communists, or others chose cases that can be rendered into causes célèbres to serve the ends of the Communists others again are designed to teach Communist dogma and tactics."

While the Justice Department secretly considered AGLOSO designations and criteria in the summer and fall of 1947, a public debate began over whether the government should undertake to create such an official list of "dubious" organizations at all and, if so, how this should be done. However, probably due to a combination of growing levels of anti-Communist feeling in the United States and the largely abstract nature of the subject in the absence of a concrete AGLOSO listing, this discussion was oddly muted and limited. Most conservative voices remained silent in apparent tacit approval of the forthcoming AGLOSO list, while liberal organizations and spokesmen generally focused on details of how AGLOSO would be compiled and whether or not it would be published, without directly attacking the fundamental conception behind it. Almost all of the relatively few voices that disputed the basic propriety or constitutionality of an official government listing of disfavored groups were associated, at least in the public mind, with "far left" or Communist Party influence.

The major arguments stressed by liberal organizations concerning AGLOSO during 1947 were that designated organizations should be entitled to a hearing or review of some kind before they were listed, that clear standards should be established for designations, and that the listing should be published, on the grounds that present and prospective federal employees were entitled to know which organizational affiliations might jeopardize their jobs. Such arguments may have convinced Justice Department officials to discard their apparent original intention to keep AGLOSO secret, as had been the case, with considerable success, with the World War II AGLOSO.

Thus, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a statement adopted by its board of directors in early April 1947, declared that the attorney general's AGLOSO powers granted by the Truman executive order posed the "greatest threat to civil liberties" because it appeared to be "without limit," without "even any requirement that the list be made public so that an individual affected might not innocently join an organization already on the blacklist." The organization also complained that Truman's order established "no standard" to guide the attorney general in his determinations and that words such as "totalitarian" and "communist" should be "precisely defined before organizations are charged with being of that character." Moreover, according to the ACLU, suspect organizations should not be blacklisted by the attorney general without a hearing, and "as far as feasible the list of proscribed organizations should be made public."

Similar arguments were made by several other prominent "anti-Communist" liberal voices. Thus, former New York City mayor Fiorello Laguardia declared, in a lengthy newspaper column entitled, "Even a Dog Gets a Hearing," that "some organizations" should "in all likelihood" be "branded" as "disloyal and subversive," but they at least should be first given a hearing, since placement on the list had such broad implications for individuals and families who might find themselves in those groups. Similarly, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt told reporters in late March that any AGLOSO listing should be made public so that people could be warned away from joining or giving funds to designated groups.

The Washington Post, which later would call for the outright abolition of AGLOSO, editorialized on March 29, 1947, that the concept of "guilt by association" was "still, happily, an odious one to the American people" and that it would be a matter of "elementary justice" for the attorney general to make his "index expurgatorius" public "so that the country as a whole may scrutinize it and judge its validity." The Washington Post soon got its wish in December 1947.

The resultant massive media publicity given to AGLOSO quickly turned it into a quasi-official blacklist and greatly spurred the development of what later became known as "McCarthyism"—well before Senator McCarthy first made the headlines in February 1950 with his speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, alleging widespread Communist infiltration of the State Department.

Robert Justin Goldstein retired in 2005 after teaching political science for over 30 years at San Diego State University in California and Oakland University in suburban Detroit. He is the author of many articles and 10 books that primarily focus on the history of American civil liberties, including a series of books and articles concerning the controversy over outlawing "desecration" of the American flag.

Note on Sources

In addition to newspapers, congressional hearings, and secondary sources indicated below, this article is based on Freedom of Information Act requests to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (notably correspondence among Director J. Edgar Hoover, Assistant Director Edward Tamm, Assistant Director D. Milton Ladd, Assistant Director Louis Nichols, Associate Director Clyde Tolson, and Attorney General Tom Clark), on Department of Justice papers (Record Group 60, especially files 146-200-2-04, 146-06, and 146-200-2 012) in the National Archives at College Park, MD, and materials in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, especially the Devitt Vanech and Eleanor Bontecou papers and materials dealing with the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty. Microfilmed records from the archives of the American Civil Liberties Union were also used.

Congressional records included House Civil Service Committee, "Personnel Practices Concerning Loyalty of Government Employees," 79th Cong., 2nd sess. (unpublished, 1946) House Committee on Un-American Activities, "Hearings on Proposed Legislation to Curb or Control the Communist Party of the United States," 80th Cong., 2nd sess. (1948) and Report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 77th Cong., 2nd sess., H. Doc. 833 (1942).

Among key secondary sources consulted were Alan Barth, The Loyalty of Free Men (New York: Pocket Books, 1952) Carl Bernstein, Loyalties: A Son's Memoir (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989) Eleanor Bontecou, The Federal-Loyalty Security Program (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1953) David Caute, The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge under Truman and Eisenhower (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978) Clark Clifford, Counsel to the President: A Memoir (New York: Random House, 1991) Richard Freeland, The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of McCarthyism: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics, and Internal Security, 1946–1948 (New York: Schocken, 1974) Richard Fried, Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) Robert Griffith and Athan Theoharis, eds., The Spector: Original Essays on the Cold War and the Origins of McCarthyism (New York: New Viewpoints, 1974) Alan Harper, The Politics of Loyalty: The White House and the Communist Issue, 1946–1952 (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1969) Athan Theoharis, Seeds of Repression: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of McCarthyism (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1971) Francis Thompson, The Frustration of Politics: Truman, Congress, and the Loyalty Issue, 1945–1953 (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1979) and Michael Ybarra, Washington Gone Crazy: Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt (Hanover, NH: Steerforth, 2004).

The author also consulted newspapers and periodicals of the time: the Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and The New Republic.

McCarthyism as a generic concept

Since the time of the red scare led by Joseph McCarthy, the term McCarthyism has entered the American vernacular as a general term for the phenomenon of mass pressure, harassment, or blacklisting used to instill conformity with prevailing political beliefs. The act of making insufficiently supported accusations or engaging in unfair investigatory methods against a person as a purported attempt to unfairly silence or discredit them is often referred to as McCarthyism. The Arthur Miller play "The Crucible", written during the McCarthy era, used the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for the McCarthyism of the 1950s, suggesting that the process of McCarthyism-style persecution can occur at any time and place. The novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953) addresses the general theme as well. Senators like John Stennis, Ralph Flanders, J. William Fulbright, John Sherman Cooper, Samuel James Ervin, and Allen J. Ellender were key senatorial figures in bringing down McCarthy.

Accusations of McCarthyism are often made by both liberals and conservatives against their political opponents for allegedly persecuting people for political reasons. For instance, conservatives often say that the "fact" that there are few politically conservative faculties in American universities is the result of McCarthyism by what they see as the liberal university establishment. On the other hand, many conservatives dislike the term because it appears to them to legitimize and perpetuate the scorn that US liberals traditionally had for McCarthy's anticommunist and anti-espionage activism, which they regard as a wise and proper thing under the circumstances.

This article incorporates material from the Wikipedia article "McCarthyism". The list of authors can be found here.

McCarthy is 120 mi (190 km) northeast of Cordova at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP of McCarthy has a total area of 148.3 square miles (384 km 2 ). None of the area is covered with water. It is connected to the outside world via the McCarthy Road spur of the Edgerton Highway from Chitina, and must be passed through to reach Kennecott, which is also within the McCarthy CDP. Historically, from the end of the road one had to cross the Kennecott River and then a smaller stream using manually propelled ropeways, but a footbridge was built in the 1990s. Visitors can walk to McCarthy in about 15 minutes, although shuttle vans and buses are available during the tourist season from the bridge to both McCarthy and Kennecott. [2]

Climate data for McCarthy 3 SW, AK, 1991-2020 normals, extremes 1984-2017
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 44
Average high °F (°C) 6.0
Daily mean °F (°C) −1.6
Average low °F (°C) −9.1
Record low °F (°C) −55
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.93
Average snowfall inches (cm) 13.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.7 7.1 4.7 2.8 7.0 11.3 14.0 16.4 15.4 11.2 10.1 9.3 118.0
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.8 6.6 4.4 2.2 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 5.2 9.3 8.6 46.7
Source 1: NOAA [3]
Source 2: WRCC (extremes) [4]
Historical population
Census Pop.
1930115 −9.4%
194049 −57.4%
200042 68.0%
201028 −33.3%
U.S. Decennial Census [5]

McCarthy first reported on the 1920 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. With the closure of the post office in 1943, [6] it did not report on the census from 1950-80. It returned again beginning in 1990 when it was made a census-designated place (CDP).

As of the census [7] of 2000, there were 42 people, 26 households, and 6 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 0.3 people per square mile (0.1/km 2 ). There were 47 housing units at an average density of 0.3/sq mi (0.1/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the CDP was 100.00% White.

There were 26 households, out of which 15.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 15.4% were married couples living together, 3.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 73.1% were non-families. 53.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.62 and the average family size was 2.14.

Drawn by an increase in tourism since the founding of Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, a significant portion of McCarthy's summer population resides elsewhere in the winter. This results in them not being counted during the censuses.

In the CDP, the age distribution of the population shows 9.5% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 47.6% from 45 to 64, and 4.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 147.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 153.3 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $17,188, and the median income for a family was $20,000. The per capita income for the CDP was $16,045. There were no families and 15.2% of the population living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and none of those over 65.

For centuries, Athabascans hunted in the area of McCarthy. Chief Nikolai and his band of Athabaskan Natives had a summer camp at Dan Creek, 15 miles east of McCarthy, where they collected copper nuggets from Dan Creek. Their permanent camp was on the Copper River at the village of Taral near Chitina where they fished for salmon.

Copper was discovered between the Kennicott Glacier and McCarthy Creek in 1900, after which Kennicott Mine, Kennecott Mining Company, and company town of Kennecott were created. Due to a clerical error, the corporation and town used the spelling of Kennecott instead of Kennicott, named for Kennicott Glacier in the valley below the town. The glacier was named after Robert Kennicott, a naturalist who explored in Alaska in the mid-1800s.

Partly because alcoholic beverages and prostitution were forbidden in Kennecott, McCarthy grew as an area to provide illicit services not available in the company town. It grew quickly into a major town with a gymnasium, a hospital, a school, a bar and a brothel. The Copper River and Northwestern Railway reached McCarthy in 1911.

In 1938, the copper deposits were mostly gone and the town was mostly abandoned. The railroad discontinued service that year. Over its 30-year operation, U.S. $200 million in ore was extracted from the mine, making it the richest concentration of copper ore in the world.

The population of McCarthy and Kennecott fell to almost zero until the 1970s, when the area began to draw young people from the many who came to Alaska in the '70s for adventure and the big money of the Trans Alaska Pipeline project. In the '80s, after the area was designated Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (1980), it began to draw some adventurous tourists to the new national park. The few people that lived there began to provide a variety of tourist services. There has always been at least one family living in the McCarthy area since 1953.

The old mine buildings, artifacts, and colorful history attract visitors during the summer months. The Kennecott and McCarthy area ranks as one of the United States' most endangered landmarks by the National Trust for Historic Places. Emergency stabilization of the old buildings has been done and more will be required.

In 2014, the TV show Edge of Alaska premiered on Discovery Channel. [8] The show has caused controversy though, as many town residents feel the town is portrayed in a bad light due to the troublesome incidents that have occurred there.

1983 shooting Edit

In an attempt to disrupt the Alaska pipeline, [9] 39-year-old Louis D. Hastings, armed with a .223-caliber Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, [10] murdered six of the 22 citizens of McCarthy on March 1, 1983. The victims were Maxine Edwards, Harley King, Les and Flo Hegland, and Tim and Amy Nash. [9] He also wounded two people. In July 1984, Hastings was sentenced to 634 years in prison. [11]

This case, and the town of McCarthy, were showcased on the Discovery Channel's Alaska Ice Cold Killers episode "Frozen Terror". [12]

The book's premise is that a vast Soviet conspiracy infiltrated the Roosevelt and Truman administrations to create a foreign policy that advanced the spread of world Communism, including the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe and the fall of Nationalist China, which McCarthy exposed, only to have his efforts undermined by political opponents with a vested interest in allowing the conspiracy to continue. [1] [2]

The book exhaustively examines, chronicles, and documents the oft-disputed claim that Communist spies, sympathizers and fellow travelers, who were aided and instigated by the Soviet Union and Communist China, infiltrated the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, to aid in the expansion of Communism throughout the world during the Cold War.

The book's footnotes and the references provide links to the documents located in the National Archives and the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other sources. Evans documents the fact that the National Archives copy of at least one of the most critical documents McCarthy submitted to the Congressional boards has been ripped out of its binder and stolen by persons unknown. Evans was able to track down another copy in the private papers of one of the Congressmen involved in the hearings. Much of the information that is cited by Evans was previously classified and unavailable to researchers, but it has now been declassified and is now available publicly.

Claims of Communist infiltration and spies within the federal government were further verified by the release of the Venona decrypts and records released by the former Soviet Union's KGB in recent years.

Ronald Radosh, a historian and expert on the Cold War spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, states that "rather than a biography, Evans has written a defense counsel's brief for his client, whom he seeks to defend against all the slanders made about McCarthy by his political enemies." He praises Evans' "extensive research", and his exposure of the political agendas of McCarthy's main opponents and their unwillingness to look more closely into Soviet penetration. He also commends Evans for correcting the view that all of McCarthy's "victims" were innocent. Radosh severely criticizes McCarthy's failure to distinguish between communists and anti-communist "liberals", and between those expressing communist or pro-communist views and those working as Soviet agents, and criticizes Evans for glossing over this. Radosh concludes

Evans’s book falls far short of what it might have done to correct the record about the era. His own exaggerations and unwarranted leaps parallel those made by McCarthy. It is unlikely that his hope to change history’s verdict will become a reality as a result of the publication of this book.

Reviewing the book for The New York Times, American historian David Oshinsky, who also wrote a book on McCarthy in 1983, was harshly critical, calling Evans' primary thesis a "remarkable fantasy," asserting that Evans has uncovered no fresh evidence and arguing that the evidence supports the view that communist spy networks in the United States had largely been dismantled by the time McCarthy started his campaign and that McCarthy was "a bit player in the battle against Communist subversion, a latecomer who turned a vital crusade into a political mud bath. The fiercely negative judgments of those who lived through the McCarthy era are widely accepted today for good reason: they ring true." [1]

Kirkus Reviews called the book "[a] revisionist biography", which, although a "detailed account", is "marred by ideological blinders" and fit "[f]or true believers only", [2] Publishers Weekly described Evans as "given to conspiracy thinking" [3] and Reason magazine described the book as "revisionist" and "a breathless defense of McCarthy." [4]

In a 2008 review by Wes Vernon of Accuracy in Media, he says, "Generally, the media that trashed the Evans book did so either from a wealth of ignorance or willingness to gloss over the book's irrefutable documentation." [5]

Learn more about:

  • LGBT-related records at the National Archives on the Tumblr blog "Discovering LGBTQ History". about federal employment policy toward gay and lesbian workers.
  • The "Records of Rights" exhibit at the National Archives.

"Case 14" was, according to McCarthy, a known homosexual who had been ousted by the State Department but then rehired. In his discussion of that man and of "Case 62," McCarthy directly linked homosexuality and Communism. A top intelligence official had reportedly told him that "practically every active Communist is twisted mentally or physically in some way." McCarthy implied that the men in these two cases were susceptible to Communist recruitment because as homosexuals they had what he called "peculiar mental twists."

Just over a week later, Deputy Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy, testifying before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, revealed that the State Department had ousted 91 homosexual employees as security risks.

This was not a complete surprise to the Senate. In 1946, its Appropriations Committee had expressed concern about security risks in the State Department and even attached to that year's appropriations bill a rider giving the secretary of state broad discretion to dismiss employees for the sake of national security. In response, the State Department had put in place more stringent security checks and begun rooting out homosexuals. This purge, specific to State, had been proceeding with relatively little publicity.

However, Peurifoy's statement about the 91, coming as it did right after McCarthy's two speeches, sparked a press frenzy and public outcry.

Political rhetoric increasingly linked "Communists and queers." Many assumptions about Communists mirrored common beliefs about homosexuals. Both were thought to be morally weak or psychologically disturbed, both were seen as godless, both purportedly undermined the traditional family, both were assumed to recruit, and both were shadowy figures with a secret subculture.

Unlike Communists, however, homosexuals were being uncovered—a fact that encouraged further pursuit.

Shortly after Peurifoy's revelation about the 91, a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee looked into McCarthy's charges about Communists in the State Department. Known as the Tydings committee after its chair, Senator Millard Tydings, this committee focused on loyalty risks rather than the broader category of security risks, largely skirting the issue of homosexuality.

Disputes broke out over this scope. Critics deemed the committee's narrow inquiry a whitewash orchestrated to shield President Harry Truman's administration from criticism about subversives in government.

Some members of Congress—driven by partisanship, political opportunism, concern about national security, alarm over "perversion," general suspicion towards the federal bureaucracy, or some combination of factors—pressed for further action. Two congressional investigations into homosexuality in the federal workforce followed.

A Committee of Two: The Wherry-Hill Investigation

From late March to May of 1950, Senator Kenneth Wherry, a Republican, and Senator J. Lister Hill, a Democrat, undertook the first investigation. The two men alone made up a subcommittee of the Subcommittee on Appropriations for the District of Columbia. No records from this investigation survive, beyond press coverage and two published reports, one from Hill and a longer one from Wherry.

Senators Kenneth Wherry (pictured at left) and J. Lister Hill conducted the first congressional investigation into homosexuality in the federal workforce. (U.S. Senate Historical Office)

The senators heard testimony from Lt. Roy Blick, head of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department's vice squad. Blick claimed that 5,000 homosexuals lived in D.C. and that about 3,700 of them were federal employees. These figures were highly speculative but dramatic and widely reported by the press.

Wherry and Hill also questioned government officials, including representatives from the State Department, the Defense Department, military intelligence, and the Civil Service Commission, the agency that oversaw civilian employees of the federal government.

In particular, Wherry wanted to know whether any of the "91 moral weaklings" fired from State had made their way back into government service. The CSC looked into the matter, determined that 13 had indeed been rehired, and outlined the steps it was taking to remove them. Wherry concluded that no coordinated system existed to guarantee that the files of personnel separated for homosexuality were appropriately flagged.

Commissioner Harry Mitchell of the CSC sent the committee suggestions for a "routine procedure to rid the offices of Government of moral perverts and guard against their admission." Henceforth, arresting authorities would report the real nature of each arrest to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which would alert the CSC, which would in turn take appropriate action to pursue removal.

To remedy the rehiring problem, the commission was also distributing to all federal departments and agencies a letter emphasizing the necessity of reporting promptly "the actual reasons" for all separations or resignations.

The CSC was not alone in springing into action once Congress took an interest in the issue. "Since your subcommittee . . . began their investigation," Wherry boasted in his report, "there has been increased activity on the part of Government departments and agencies . . . to take off their payrolls alleged moral perverts." Lieutenant Blick asserted that the congressional investigation had prompted nearly every agency of the government to send an official to see him.

"From what I can learn and by my own personal observation," Blick claimed, "between 90 and 100 moral perverts have recently resigned." If such a small-scale congressional inquiry had prompted the agencies to root out 100, Wherry reasoned, an extensive investigation would accomplish even more and was clearly in the public interest.

Wherry also emphasized the Communist connection: "Only the most naïve could believe that the Communists' fifth column in the United States would neglect to propagate and use homosexuals to gain their treacherous ends." Indeed, one special investigator told the committee that many homosexuals could be spotted at the Communist meetings routinely monitored by D.C. police.

The Senate was convinced. In response to Wherry and Hill's recommendations, it resolved on June 7, 1950, to undertake a thorough, comprehensive investigation of "the alleged employment by the departments and agencies of the Government of homosexuals and other moral perverts."

A Wider Net: The Hoey Committee Investigation

This second, larger investigation was assigned to the investigations subcommittee of the Senate's Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments. Also known as the Hoey committee after its chairman, Senator Clyde Hoey, the subcommittee included three additional Democrats (Senators James Eastland, John McClellan, and Herbert O'Conor) and three Republicans (Senators Karl Mundt, Andrew Schoeppel, and Margaret Chase Smith).

Senator McCarthy was also on the subcommittee but excluded himself from this particular investigation, resigning his seat temporarily on June 14. He still occasionally forwarded information about suspected homosexuals and likely had the ear of the subcommittee's chief counsel, Francis Flanagan. (In an interview conducted in 1996, Flanagan described himself as a "close personal friend" of McCarthy's and recalled extended hunting trips the two men took together.) In addition to Flanagan, the committee staff included an assistant counsel, five investigators, and a chief clerk.

Senators Herbert O Connor, Clyde Hoey, and Margaret Chase Smith in 1949, the year before all three served on the committee conducting a comprehensive investigation into the alleged employment of gay people by the federal government. (U.S. Senate Historical Office)

That team gathered information from federal agencies, law enforcement, judicial authorities, and the medical community. In July and September, the committee also held five days of "executive session" hearings, closed to the public, at which a subset of these officials and authorities testified before the committee’s members and staff. No gay men or lesbians spoke.

Ruth Young, the committee's chief clerk, suggested in an oral history years later that the presence of Senator Smith, the only woman in the Senate, constrained discussion. "You could have been talking about the weather," Young recollected. "You never heard a bunch of hearings with so little sex." (Indeed, Flanagan later recalled Senator Hoey asking him to advise Smith to skip the hearings. She insisted on attending. Hoey complained that he had wanted to ask more questions but could not do so with her there.)

The documents gathered and generated by the Hoey committee during its six months in operation are held at the Center for Legislative Archives, the permanent home within the National Archives for the records of Congress. These documents illuminate the committee's work processes and many details of this particular chapter of history.

Memoranda and index cards in the records show the committee's initial intent to create a central name index of known or suspected homosexuals. However, President Truman had previously issued a directive closing government personnel files to congressional committees, and the Hoey committee quickly refocused its efforts.

The staff first contacted a wide range of federal agencies to ascertain the number of suspected homosexuals investigated or removed from employment and to inquire about the agency's related policies and procedures and its general stance on the suitability of gay employees. A questionnaire went out to all branches of the military plus 53 civilian departments and agencies, ranging from the large and prominent, like State, Treasury, and Justice, to the small and obscure, like the American Battle Monument Commission and the Philippine War Damage Commission. Committee investigators then interviewed agency officials and summarized these conversations in memoranda.

Most agencies came out strongly against the suitability of homosexual employees. The response of Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer was typical. In a July 24 letter to the committee, he declared:

"The privilege of working for the United States Government should not be extended to persons of dubious moral character, such as homosexuals or sex perverts. The confidence of our citizenry in their Government would be severely taxed if we looked with tolerance upon the employment of such persons."

Not all agency officials were equally damning, however.

For example, in his July 31 reply to the committee, Howard Colvin, acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, asserted that homosexuals could make good employees:

"Since it is possible, according to our understanding of medical and psychiatric opinion on the subject, for a homosexual to lead a normal, well-adjusted life, we do not consider that such a person necessarily constitutes a bad security risk. We believe that each such case would have to be decided on its own merits."

An excerpt from the Commerce Department s response to the Hoey committtee. Many employees confronted with charges of homosexuality chose to resign. (Records of the U.S. Senate, RG 46)

Certain agencies may have been more concerned about homosexuality, and others more inclined to turn a blind eye. It is impossible to know whether the subtle distinctions in these letters reflect the particular agency’s culture, the attitude of the individual writing the response, or some combination of factors, but there is at least evidence here of a range of opinion.

The Hoey committee records also show that a small number of agency officials were initially not entirely forthcoming. Investigator James Thomas grew exasperated with John Shover, director of personnel at the National Labor Relations Board. "His attitude at the time," Thomas writes in a July 20 memorandum summarizing a telephone interview, "did not appear to be too cooperative." When Thomas proposed an in-person meeting to discuss two cases of homosexuality in the department, Shover balked. According to Thomas, "he more or less refused to receive me for this purpose and said rather bluntly: 'I am not going to let you see any of our files.'" This occasional resistance and the subtle variations of opinion evident in the committee’s records suggest that, at least at the start of the scare, each agency may have had its own nuanced stance toward homosexuality.

At the committee's formal hearings, the intelligence community was especially well-represented. The senators seemed particularly eager for advice from that sector. Senator McClellan asked Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, for input into possible legislation to establish a master database of identified homosexuals. Senator Smith invited the admiral to think about whether "a special agency" should be created to deal with the problem. Senator Mundt praised him for making it clear "why it is dangerous to put a homosexual in an unimportant, non-sensitive position." Mundt summed up his new understanding:

"This clandestine comraderie [sic] they establish necessitously brings to Government people of homosexual tendencies. Even though you hire him as a janitor, he tends to bring in a fellow who might become chief of the division."

The committee also gathered data from law enforcement and judicial authorities. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department shared its arrest records related to homosexuality. The U.S. Park Police provided its "Pervert Records" in two separate documents, one for government employees and the other for everybody else.

Officials of both forces testified about the challenges of policing homosexuality in the capital city. Lieutenant Blick rued the difficulty of eliminating cruising from the public parks—especially the restrooms: "We have been out there, Mr. Chairman, from 4:30 p.m. on around until 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. in the morning, and . . . I do not believe a half a dozen legitimate persons go in there to answer Nature's call."

In addition, the committee took testimony from D.C. judges and prosecutors. Much of the conversation centered on the inadequacies of the forfeiture system. Men arrested for seeking same-sex contact were typically charged with disorderly conduct and allowed to forfeit a $25 collateral without appearing in court.

To survey how these offenses were being handled elsewhere, the Hoey committee sent questionnaires to police and prosecutors in 10 of the nation's largest cities. It also held conferences with police officials in Baltimore, New York City, and Philadelphia.

Finally, the committee investigated what it called the "medical aspects" of the problem. Staff investigators wrote to and interviewed prominent psychiatrists and other medical authorities to ascertain whether homosexuals could be detected through psychiatric examination, whether and how they could be cured, whether they lacked the emotional stability necessary for government service, whether they tended to seduce younger men and women, and whether it would be helpful to have psychiatrists on personnel boards charged with identifying homosexuals. Committee staff consulted close to two dozen medical authorities and devoted one session of hearings to related testimony.

The doctors' letters and testimony offer a snapshot of the medical community's understanding of homosexuality at the time. Dr. Clements Fry of Yale University's Division of Psychiatry and Mental Hygiene captured the overall tenor in his August 9 letter:

"It is a difficult task to answer your five questions as the problem of homosexuality is more involved than your questions indicate. Each question would have to be answered with qualifications for homosexuality is not an entity. There are all shades and gradations."

Other medical authorities echoed his points about the complexity of the issue, the coexistence of various tendencies in the same person, and the fluidity of sexuality. In his July 26 testimony before the committee, Dr. Leonard Scheele, Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, observed, "We have many individuals who are not completely homosexual. We have some who are homo and heterosexual at various times." He underscored the sketchiness of knowledge about the issue: "We are dealing in a gap area in large degree."

The committee, it seemed, hoped instead for clarity, simplicity, and straightforward solutions. Senator Smith asked Dr. Scheele, "There is no quick test like an x-ray that discloses these things?"

When Capt. George Raines testified before the committee, he submitted this diagram, which he had used to teach his psychiatry students at Georgetown University. Raines believed that homosexuality was contained to some degree in all personalities. (Records of the U.S. Senate, RG 46)

"No, unfortunately," he replied, "it is a long interview affair."

Another witness before the committee, Capt. George Raines, professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, emphasized the role his social connections played in his understanding. Having known a thousand well-adjusted gay men and lesbians, he declared that "the homosexual in the drawing room is quite a different individual than the homosexual the psychiatrist sees in his office. Only sick people go to a doctor." His experience foreshadowed what came to pass in a larger way by the end of the 20th century, as widespread social interaction with openly gay people increased public acceptance of homosexuality.

That future, however, was a long way off. In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association’s first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders officially classified homosexuality as a "sociopathic personality disturbance." Ironically, the relatively open-minded Raines was then the chairman of the APA's Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics, which shepherded the manual into existence.

The fine print in that text admits that people placed in this category were "ill primarily in terms of society and of conformity with the prevailing cultural milieu," but that hedging did not soften the blow on gay men and lesbians. That official "sociopathic" designation carried tremendous force, lasting for more than 20 years and justifying widespread discrimination. Nevertheless, the Hoey committee's files show that, even in this era, some in the medical community were trying, however haltingly and inconsistently, to articulate an understanding of human sexuality that embraced complexity.

Tightening the Net

The two congressional investigations themselves, and the procedural and other changes put in place while they were ongoing, made life far more precarious for gay federal workers.

In her testimony before the Hoey committee on September 8, Frances Perkins, former secretary of labor and then a member of the Civil Service Commission, emphasized recent initiatives aimed at eliciting from all government offices "the true reasons" for resignations. Perkins reported that the commission had established an inspection division—a "constant inspection service"—charged with ensuring agency compliance with the new full disclosure rules.

"I think we can say," asserted Perkins, "that because of recent pressures which we and others have imposed upon the agencies, and a new awareness of the fact that this problem existed, that we are now getting we believe the full cause of the resignation." It was becoming increasingly difficult for a gay worker to resign without a permanent tag of "perversion" or "homosexuality" on his or her record.

During the same hearing, D. Milton Ladd, the assistant to the director of the FBI, reported that the bureau had recently delivered Lieutenant Blick's list of D.C. homosexuals to the Civil Service Commission and to all relevant government agencies. On top of that, the FBI had instructed the D.C. Metropolitan Police, as well as the police departments of neighboring cities in Maryland and Virginia, to indicate on all arrest records submitted to the FBI in the future "information as to the man's employment, particularly where there is indication he is employed by the Federal Government." In May, reported Ladd, the FBI had taken one additional giant step, instructing police departments throughout the U.S. "to indicate on any arrest fingerprint cards, the federal employment of the individuals arrested." A man could be picked up in California for responding to an undercover vice officer's suggestive remarks—and end up losing his government job 2,000 miles away in Washington, D.C.

The Hoey committee also directly influenced District of Columbia court procedures and penalties for cases involving homosexuality. According to Thomas Quinn, associate judge of the municipal court, the Hoey committee's Flanagan met in early August with George Barse, chief judge of the municipal court, "with regard to homosexual cases, and with particular regard to the matter of forfeitures."

This meeting sparked a conference of all the city judges later in the month, resulting in a new judicial order. That order prohibited forfeiture in disorderly conduct cases of a sexual nature and required that $300 cash or $500 bond be posted. "So by that procedure," Quinn observed, "we will force these individuals to come into court and they will either have to stand trial or enter a plea." These changes ratcheted up the financial penalty, as well as the public shaming, and all because Flanagan had taken action.

Carlisle Humelsine, the State Department s acting deputy under secretary of state for administration, testified before the Hoey committee in closed session on July 19, 1951. This exchange between Humelsine and Senator Margaret Chase Smith indicates that State had recently ratcheted up its scrutiny of employees, especially those who were unmarried or had "prissy habits." (Records of the U.S. Senate, RG 46)

Without a doubt, particular individuals were detected and removed from employment as a direct result of the two congressional investigations. In addition to Blick’s claim in May that close to 100 had been rooted out just since the Wherry-Hill investigation began in March, the files of the Hoey committee show that certain individuals were caught up in its wider net as well. Anonymous correspondents submitted the names of suspected homosexuals to the committee. Staff of the committee also cross-referenced information to snare individuals who had until then managed to fly under the radar.

For example, investigator James Thomas wrote a memorandum on July 6, summarizing his interview with officials at the General Accounting Office about 10 homosexuality cases. Then he looked through the Hoey committee's file of police records and found the names of two additional GAO employees who had been arrested for same-sex activity. Thomas notified the agency, adding in a postscript to his memo, "The G.A.O. had no record of the charges in these cases and were glad to receive the information concerning them."

It came to the committee's attention that Congress itself had no system for dealing with "perversion" in its midst. Senator Hoey acknowledged the oversight in a November 28 memorandum to the Justice Department's deputy attorney general, Peyton Ford:

"Our investigation revealed that no procedures now exist whereby the proper officials in the legislative branch of the government can be kept informed in those cases in which legislative employees may be arrested . . . on charges of homosexuality."

His letter was likely sparked by the discovery, mentioned in a letter of the same date by Flanagan, that a current employee of the House had been arrested the preceding March for homosexual activity. Each chamber had a problem. Committee clerk Ruth Young recalled that an elevator operator in the Senate was found to be on "the District of Columbia list of known homosexuals." In his November 30 reply to Hoey, Ford concurred with the chairman's suggestion that, henceforth, FBI information about any House or Senate employee arrested on charges of homosexuality should be forwarded to the chair of that chamber's committee on administration.

The two congressional investigations had a chilling effect on the overall climate of Washington's gay community.

"I think you should know," Captain Raines observed in his testimony before the Hoey committee, "those of us in town who have a large number of contacts are aware . . . that Government at this time has a rising wave of anxiety in it, a tremendous wave of anxiety. These people are frightened to death, and the agencies, some of them are frightened."

The Power of a Report

After completing its investigation, the Hoey committee issued a report, Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government, summarizing its findings and recommendations. The committee found that, during the preceding three years, close to 5,000 homosexuals had been detected in the military and civilian workforces.

An excerpt from the Hoey committee s final report, which served as the foundation for the federal government s exclusion of gay people for years to come. (Records of the U.S. Senate, RG 46)

Written by Flanagan and approved by the committee, the report concluded that gay people should not be employed by the federal government because they were "generally unsuitable" and constituted "security risks." Much was made of their supposed vulnerability to blackmail, though evidence of this was lacking. The report asserted also that gay people lacked emotional stability, had weak "moral fiber," were a bad influence on the young, and attracted others of their kind to government service. "One homosexual," the report warned, "can pollute a Government office."

Flanagan selectively used evidence that the committee had gathered, largely ignoring, for example, the complexities raised by medical authorities. The report also dismissed the hesitations, qualifying statements, and more tolerant attitudes voiced by a minority of agency officials.

Flanagan characterized these alternative perspectives as "unrealistic" views of the problem, as relying on the "false premise" that what employees did in their own time was their own business, and as "a head-in-the-sand attitude."

While the report did not call for any major new legislation, it urged government agencies and the Civil Service Commission to enforce aggressively their existing policies banning employees guilty of "immoral conduct." The committee also called for a tightening of sex crime laws in the District and for better communication among the agencies, the Civil Service Commission, and law enforcement officials.

Flanagan forwarded his draft of the report on to each committee member. Only Senators Mundt and Schoeppel sent back suggestions for revision, and these were minor. Both men asked Flanagan to add something about, as Mundt put it, the committee's intent to reexamine the situation periodically "to see whether these recommendations are being followed and whether they are comprehensive enough to protect the public interest": a warning to the agencies to be vigilant. Flanagan obliged. The impact of his wordsmithing in the form of this report, like the impact of James Thomas's industrious cross-referencing, serves as a reminder that congressional power is wielded by hired staff as well as elected representatives.

The Hoey committee report was widely promulgated and highly influential. It shaped government agency security manuals for years to come. It was sent abroad to U.S. embassies and to foreign intelligence agencies. The report carried the authority of Congress and so was taken as official proof that gay people did indeed threaten national security. The U.S. government and even foreign governments repeatedly quoted it to justify discrimination.

Most significantly, the 1950 congressional investigations and the Hoey committee's final report helped institutionalize discrimination by laying the groundwork for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1953 Executive Order #10450, "Security Requirements for Government Employment."

That order explicitly added sexuality to the criteria used to determine suitability for federal employment. With the stroke of a pen, the President effectively banned gay men and lesbians from all jobs in the U.S. government—the country's largest employer.

Even the private sector was no haven. Because Eisenhower's order stipulated that "consultants" to government agencies could be investigated for adherence to these security requirements, contractors and other employers, especially in metropolitan Washington, followed the government's lead and adopted discriminatory hiring and firing practices as well.

Congressional investigation, and the institutionalized exclusion that followed, created a sizable ripple effect. Historians estimate that somewhere between 5,000 and tens of thousands of gay workers lost their jobs during the Lavender Scare. Some faced continued unemployment or underemployment, exclusion from their professions, financial strain or even ruin, and considerable emotional distress. Suicide was not uncommon. Some of these tragedies we know about others remain forever hidden because obituaries typically omitted the cause of death in such cases.

An excerpt from Pervert Records (Government Employees), submitted by the U.S. Park Police to the Hoey committee. Because the Civil Service was notified in each case, these men likely lost their jobs or were barred from government employment in the future. (Records of the U.S. Senate, RG 46)

Many gay men and lesbians did not even bother to apply for federal employment, or jobs with government contractors, because they worried about possible detection. Others passed up opportunities for promotion, or otherwise scaled down their ambitions, for fear of attracting greater scrutiny in more prominent positions. The total fallout in terms of ruined or truncated lives and wasted human potential is ultimately immeasurable.

Unlike the Red Scare, the Lavender Scare featured no public naming of names and no dramatic spectacles in which the accused testified. That relative anonymity saved lives public exposure almost certainly would have led to more suicides.

Yet this feature of the scare also meant that gay men and women remained vague specters—not real people.

Moreover, that anonymity tends to skew perception of the scare even today by making it seem abstract. If you read only the Hoey committee's published generalities and statistics, it is easy to see those caught up in the purge as numbers on a page, rather than particular human beings. In the unpublished committee records, however, the individuals emerge just a bit—in passing references and fleeting anecdotes.

One man who lost his job had married, fathered a child, and tried his best to be exclusively heterosexual before slipping up ("We would never have caught this fellow except this one time") another fired employee worried about his dependents ("He cares for sick parents and has now no source of income") another "committed suicide by leaping from a bridge." These kinds of fragments—scattered in the committee’s transcripts, memoranda, correspondence, and other unpublished records—suggest the fuller truth and tragedy.

The Past as Prologue

The story recounted here is prologue to another: official discrimination eventually inspired some gay federal workers to take action.

In 1957, the Army Map Service fired astronomer Franklin Kameny because he had been arrested in California a year earlier for consensual contact with another man. Unlike most in his predicament, Kameny fought back in a sustained way, eventually appealing his dismissal all the way to the Supreme Court.

When that appeal failed in 1961, Kameny co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which battled anti-gay discrimination in general and the federal government's exclusionary policies in particular. Other fired gay workers filed suit as well. Eventually, after years of public demonstrations, ongoing organizational pressure, and numerous legal battles, the tide turned.

In 1975 the Civil Service Commission announced new rules stipulating that gay people could no longer be barred or fired from federal employment because of their sexuality. The Lavender Scare was finally officially over (at least for civilian workers).

In his testimony before the Hoey committee in 1950, psychiatrist George Raines emphasized the danger of further alienating anyone who was already a social outcast. "That sort of individual," he warned, "is ripe for revolution."

He was correct. Although the "revolution" was of a different sort than Raines (or McCarthy) imagined, Kameny and his fellow activists, under the pressure of rising discrimination, brought about their own kind of revolution: a changed world for gay federal workers.

Judith Adkins is an archivist at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Notes on Sources

The definitive monograph on the purge is David K. Johnson's The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (2004). I thank Dr. Johnson for sharing audio files of his interviews with Francis Flanagan in 1996 and 1997. For the background leading up to the investigations, and for the impact of the Hoey committee report, I have relied largely on Johnson's work and on Genny Beemyn's A Queer Capital: A History of Gay Life in Washington, D.C. (2015).

Other secondary works informing this account include: Randolph W. Baxter, "'Homo-Hunting' in the Early Cold War: Senator Kenneth Wherry and the Homophobic Side of McCarthyism," Nebraska History 84 (2003): 119–132 Douglas M. Charles, Hoover's War on Gays: Exposing the FBI’s "Sex Deviates" Program (2015) Lillian Faderman, The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle (2015) Linda Hirshman, Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution (2012) and Michael G. Long, Gay is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny (2014).

Primary sources used here include three congressional committee reports published by the U.S. Government Printing Office in 1950. The Wherry Report appeared as Report of the Investigations of the Junior Senator of Nebraska . . . on the Infiltration of Subversives and Moral Perverts into the Executive Branch of the United States Government, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Committee Print 4178. The Hill Report was published as Report of the Subcommittee of the Subcommittee on the Appropriations for the District of Columbia . . . with Reference to Testimony on Subversive Activity and Homosexuals in the Government Service, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Committee Print 4179. The Hoey committee's final report is Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government, Interim Report . . . , 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Document 241.

For McCarthy's speech to the Senate, see Congressional Record, 81st Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. 96, Part 2, pp. 1952–1981.

The unpublished records of the Hoey committee are part of National Archives Record Group 46, the Records of the U.S. Senate. The investigative files have been subsumed into the "numbered case files" of the investigating committee's successor committee, which is the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. These files are the Case 40 files of the PSI records. The committee's hearings transcripts are the Executive Session Hearings, Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, Subcommittee on Investigations, 81st Congress.

The specific hearings and Case 40 items referenced in this article are: Sawyer's July 24 letter is in file 40-09 Colvin's July 31 letter and Thomas's July 6 and July 20 memoranda are in file 40-20, folder 2 Hillenkoetter's testimony, and the senators' responses, are from the executive session of July 14 the Blick and Quinn testimonies are from the executive session of September 15 Fry’s August 9 letter is in file 40-17 the Scheele and Raines testimonies are from the executive session of July 26 the Perkins and Ladd testimonies are from the executive session of September 8 the Hoey, Flanagan, and Ford correspondence regarding legislative employees is in file 40-0, folder 1 correspondence about the final report is in file 40-24.

Those "passing references and fleeting anecdotes" are from Hillenkoetter's July 14 testimony, Raines's July 26 testimony, and Thomas's June 20 memorandum in file 40-20, folder 1.

The interview of Ruth Young Watt was conducted by Donald A. Ritchie on September 7, 1979, for the Oral History Project of the United States Senate Historical Office. A transcript is available on that office's website.

Eisenhower's Executive Order #10450 can be found on the website of the Office of the Federal Register the original is at the National Archives as part of Record Group 11, General Records of the U.S. Government.

Note on language: I have used homosexual or gay interchangeably to describe workers fired for homosexuality, but these are not necessarily terms they would have used to describe themselves. Gay as a descriptor for sexual orientation dates to the 1920s but did not become common usage until the 1970s.