1 Precursors to the committee
Overman Committee (1919) 1.2 Fish Committee (1930) 1.3 McCormack-Dickstein Committee (1934–1937) 1.4 Dies Committee (1938–1944)
2 Standing Committee (1945–1975)
3 Chairmen 4 Notable members 5 See also 6 References
6.1 Works cited
7 Further reading
7.1 Archives 7.2 Books 7.3 Articles
8 External links
Precursors to the committee
Overman Committee (1919)
Lee Slater Overman
Lee Slater Overman headed the first congressional investigation of American communism in 1919.
Overman Committee was a subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary chaired by North Carolina
North Carolina Democratic Senator Lee Slater Overman that operated from September 1918 to June 1919. The subcommittee investigated German as well as Bolshevik
Bolshevik elements in the United States. This committee was originally concerned with investigating pro-German sentiments in the American liquor industry. After World War I
World War I ended in November 1918, and the German threat lessened, the committee began investigating Bolshevism, which had appeared as a threat during the First Red Scare
First Red Scare after the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution in 1917. The committee's hearing into Bolshevik
Bolshevik propaganda, conducted February 11 to March 10, 1919, had a decisive role in constructing an image of a radical threat to the United States during the first Red Scare. Fish Committee (1930) Congressman Hamilton Fish III (R-NY), who was a fervent anti-communist, introduced, on May 5, 1930, House Resolution 180, which proposed to establish a committee to investigate communist activities in the United States. The resulting committee, commonly known as the Fish Committee, undertook extensive investigations of people and organizations suspected of being involved with or supporting communist activities in the United States. Among the committee's targets were the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union and communist presidential candidate William Z. Foster. The committee recommended granting the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice more authority to investigate communists, and strengthening of immigration and deportation laws to keep communists out of the United States. McCormack-Dickstein Committee (1934–1937) From 1934 to 1937, the Special
Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda
Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities, chaired by John William McCormack
John William McCormack (D-MA) and Samuel Dickstein (D-NY), held public and private hearings and collected testimony filling 4,300 pages. The committee was widely known as the McCormack-Dickstein committee. Its mandate was to get "information on how foreign subversive propaganda entered the U.S. and the organizations that were spreading it", and it was replaced with a similar committee that focused on pursuing communists. Its records are held by the National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives and Records Administration as records related to HUAC. The committee investigated allegations of a fascist plot to seize the White House, known as the "business plot". Although the plot was widely reported as a hoax, the committee confirmed some details of the accusations. It has been reported that while Dickstein served on this committee and the subsequent Special
Special investigation Committee, he was paid $1,250 a month by the Soviet NKVD, which hoped to get secret congressional information on anti-communists and pro-fascists. It is unclear whether he actually passed on any information. Dies Committee (1938–1944)
Conservative Texas Democrat Martin Dies served as chair of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, predecessor to the permanent committee, for its entire 7-year duration.
On May 26, 1938, the House Committee on Un-American Activities was
established as a special investigating committee, reorganized from its
previous incarnations as the Fish Committee and the
McCormack-Dickstein Committee, to investigate alleged disloyalty and
subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public
employees, and those organizations suspected of having communist or
fascist ties; however, it concentrated its efforts on
communists. It was chaired by
Martin Dies Jr.
Martin Dies Jr. (D-Tex.), and therefore known as the Dies Committee. In 1938, Hallie Flanagan, the head of the Federal Theatre Project, was subpoenaed to appear before the committee to answer the charge the project was overrun with communists. Flanagan was called to testify for only a part of one day, while a clerk from the project was called in for two entire days. It was during this investigation that one of the committee members, Joe Starnes
Joe Starnes (D-Ala.), famously asked Flanagan whether the Elizabethan era
Elizabethan era playwright Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was a member of the Communist
Communist Party, and mused "Mr. Euripides" preached class warfare. In 1939, the committee investigated leaders of the American Youth Congress, a Communist
Communist International affiliate organization. The committee also put together an argument for the internment of Japanese Americans known as the "Yellow Report". Organized in response to rumors of Japanese Americans being coddled by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) and news that some former inmates would be allowed to leave camp and Nisei
Nisei soldiers to return to the West Coast, the committee investigated charges of fifth column activity in the camps. A number of anti-WRA arguments were presented in subsequent hearings, but Director Dillon Myer debunked the more inflammatory claims. The investigation was presented to the 77th Congress, and alleged that certain cultural traits - Japanese loyalty to the Emperor, the number of Japanese fishermen in the US, and the Buddhist faith - were evidence for Japanese espionage. With the exception of Rep. Herman Eberharter (D-Pa.), the members of the committee seemed to support internment, and its recommendations to expedite the impending segregation of "troublemakers", establish a system to investigate applicants for leave clearance, and step up Americanization and assimilation efforts largely coincided with WRA goals. In 1946, the committee considered opening investigations into the Ku Klux Klan, but decided against doing so, prompting white supremacist committee member John E. Rankin
John E. Rankin (D-Miss.) to remark, "After all, the KKK is an old American institution." Instead of the Klan, HUAC concentrated on investigating the possibility that the American Communist
Communist Party had infiltrated the Works Progress Administration, including the Federal Theatre Project
Federal Theatre Project and the Federal Writers' Project. Twenty years later, in 1965–1966, however, the committee did conduct an investigation into Klan activities under chairman Edwin Willis (D-La.). Standing Committee (1945–1975)
Francis E. Walter
Francis E. Walter of Pennsylvania was chair of HUAC from 1955 until his death in 1963.
The House Committee on Un-American Activities became a standing
(permanent) committee in 1945. Democratic Representative Edward J.
Hart of New Jersey became the committee's first chairman. Under
the mandate of Public Law 601, passed by the 79th Congress, the
committee of nine representatives investigated suspected threats of
subversion or propaganda that attacked "the form of government
guaranteed by our Constitution".
Under this mandate, the committee focused its investigations on real
and suspected communists in positions of actual or supposed influence
in the United States society. A significant step for HUAC was its
investigation of the charges of espionage brought against Alger Hiss
in 1948. This investigation ultimately resulted in Hiss's trial and
conviction for perjury, and convinced many of the usefulness of
congressional committees for uncovering communist subversion.
Hollywood blacklist Main article: Hollywood
Hollywood blacklist In 1947, the committee held nine days of hearings into alleged communist propaganda and influence in the Hollywood
Hollywood motion picture industry. After conviction on contempt of Congress charges for refusal to answer some questions posed by committee members, "The Hollywood Ten" were blacklisted by the industry. Eventually, more than 300 artists - including directors, radio commentators, actors, and particularly screenwriters - were boycotted by the studios. Some, like Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Paul Robeson, and Yip Harburg, left the U.S or went underground to find work. Others wrote under pseudonyms or the names of colleagues. Only about ten percent succeeded in rebuilding careers within the entertainment industry. In 1947, studio executives told the committee that wartime films – such as Mission to Moscow, The North Star, and Song of Russia
Song of Russia – could be considered pro-Soviet propaganda, but claimed that the films were valuable in the context of the Allied war effort, and that they were made (in the case of Mission to Moscow) at the request of White House officials. In response to the House investigations, most studios produced a number of anti-communist and anti-Soviet propaganda films such as The Red Menace (August 1949), The Red Danube
The Red Danube (October 1949), The Woman on Pier 13
The Woman on Pier 13 (October 1949), Guilty of Treason
Guilty of Treason (May 1950, about the ordeal and trial of Cardinal József Mindszenty), I Was a Communist
Communist for the FBI (May 1951, Academy Award nominated for best documentary 1951, also serialized for radio), Red Planet Mars
Red Planet Mars (May 1952), and John Wayne's Big Jim McLain
Big Jim McLain (August 1952). Universal-International Pictures
Universal-International Pictures was the only major studio that did not produce such a film. Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss
On July 31, 1948, the committee heard testimony from Elizabeth
Bentley, an American who had been working as a Soviet agent in New
York. Among those whom she named as communists was Harry Dexter White.
The committee subpoenaed
Whittaker Chambers for August 3, 1948. Chambers, too, was a former Soviet spy, by then a senior editor of Time magazine.
Alger Hiss (1950)
Chambers named more than a half dozen government officials including
White as well as
Alger Hiss (and Hiss' brother Donald). Most of these former officials refused to answer committee questions, citing the Fifth Amendment. White denied the allegations, and died of a heart attack a few days later. Hiss also denied all charges; however, doubts about his testimony, especially those expressed by freshman Congressman Richard Nixon, led to further investigation that strongly suggested Hiss had made a number of false statements. Hiss challenged Chambers to repeat his charges outside of a Congressional committee, which Chambers did. Hiss sued for libel, leading Chambers to produce copies of State Department documents which he claimed Hiss had given him in 1938. Hiss denied this before a grand jury, was indicted for perjury, and was convicted and imprisoned. The present-day House of Representatives website on HUAC states that, "In the 1990s, relying on Soviet archives and records from the Venona project
Venona project - a secret U.S. program that decrypted Soviet intelligence messages - some scholars argued that Hiss had indeed been a spy on the Kremlin's payroll." Decline
Richard Howard Ichord Jr.
Richard Howard Ichord Jr. of Missouri was chair of the renamed House Internal Security Committee from 1969 until its termination in January 1975.
In the wake of the downfall of McCarthy (who never served in the
House, nor HUAC), the prestige of HUAC began a gradual decline
beginning in the late 1950s. By 1959, the committee was being
denounced by former President
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman as the "most un-American thing in the country today". In May 1960, the committee held hearings in San Francisco City Hall that led to the infamous "riot" on May 13, when city police officers fire-hosed protesting students from UC Berkeley, Stanford, and other local colleges and dragged them down the marble steps beneath the rotunda, leaving some seriously injured. Soviet affairs expert William Mandel, who had been subpoenaed to testify, angrily denounced the committee and the police in a blistering statement which was aired repeatedly for years thereafter on Pacifica Radio station KPFA
KPFA in Berkeley. An anti-communist propaganda film, Operation Abolition, was produced by the committee from subpoenaed local news reports, and shown around the country during 1960 and 1961. In response, the Northern California ACLU
ACLU produced a film called Operation Correction, which discussed falsehoods in the first film. Scenes from the hearings and protest were later featured in the Academy Award-nominated 1990 documentary Berkeley in the Sixties. The committee lost considerable prestige as the 1960s progressed, increasingly becoming the target of political satirists and the defiance of a new generation of political activists. HUAC subpoenaed Jerry Rubin
Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman
Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies in 1967, and again in the aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The Yippies used the media attention to make a mockery of the proceedings. Rubin came to one session dressed as a United States Revolutionary War soldier and passed out copies of the United States Declaration of Independence to people in attendance. Rubin then "blew giant gum bubbles, while his co-witnesses taunted the committee with Nazi salutes". Hoffman attended a session dressed as Santa Claus. On another occasion, police stopped Hoffman at the building entrance and arrested him for wearing the United States flag. Hoffman quipped to the press, "I regret that I have but one shirt to give for my country", paraphrasing the last words of revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale; Rubin, who was wearing a matching Viet Cong
Viet Cong flag, shouted that the police were communists for not arresting him also. Hearings in August 1966 called to investigate anti-Vietnam war activities were disrupted by hundreds of protesters, many from the Progressive Labor Party. The committee faced witnesses who were openly defiant. According to The Harvard Crimson:
In the fifties, the most effective sanction was terror. Almost any
publicity from HUAC meant the 'blacklist'. Without a chance to clear
his name, a witness would suddenly find himself without friends and
without a job. But it is not easy to see how in 1969, a HUAC blacklist
could terrorize an SDS activist. Witnesses like
Jerry Rubin have openly boasted of their contempt for American institutions. A subpoena from HUAC would be unlikely to scandalize Abbie Hoffman
Abbie Hoffman or his friends.
In an attempt to reinvent itself, the committee was renamed as the Internal Security Committee in 1969. Termination The House Committee on Internal Security was formally terminated on January 14, 1975, the day of the opening of the 94th Congress. The Committee's files and staff were transferred on that day to the House Judiciary Committee. Chairmen
Martin Dies Jr., (D-Tex.), 1938-1944
Edward J. Hart (D-N.J.), 1945-1946
J. Parnell Thomas
J. Parnell Thomas (R-N.J.), 1947-1948 John Stephens Wood (D-Ga.), 1949-1953 Harold H. Velde (R-Ill.), 1953-1955 Francis E. Walter
Francis E. Walter (D-Pa.), 1955-1963 Edwin E. Willis
Edwin E. Willis (D-La.), 1963-1969 Richard Howard Ichord Jr.
Richard Howard Ichord Jr. (D-Mo.), 1969-1975
For a complete list of members, see List of members of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Richard Nixon Gordon H. Scherer Karl E. Mundt Felix Edward Hébert John E. Rankin Richard B. Vail Donald L. Jackson Jerry Voorhis Noah M. Mason
Samuel Dickstein (congressman)
J. Edgar Hoover
California Senate Factfinding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities
Defending Dissent Foundation
Communist Registration Bill McCarran Internal Security Act Red-baiting United States Senate
United States Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Subversive Activities Control Board Wilkinson v. United States
^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York: Basic
Books. p. 265. ISBN 0-465-04195-7.
^ For example, see Brown, Sarah (2002-02-05). "Pleading the Fifth".
BBC News. McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee
^ Patrick Doherty, Thomas. Cold War, Cool Medium: Television,
McCarthyism, and American Culture. 2003, pages 15-16.
^ Schmidt, p. 136
^ Schmidt, p. 144
^ "Complete Digitized Testimonies: The U.S. Congress
Special Committee on Communist
Communist Activities in Washington State Hearings (1930)". Communism in Washington State History and Memory Project. Retrieved 21 August 2012. ^ Memoirs, pp. 41-42 ^ To Added Law for Curb on Reds The New York Times, November 18, 1930 p. 21 ^ Weinstein, Allen; Vassiliev, Alexander (2000-03-14). The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America - The Stalin Era. New York: Modern Library. pp. 140–150. ISBN 0-375-75536-5. ^ Finkelman, Paul (2006-10-10). Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. CRC Press. p. 780. ISBN 978-0-415-94342-0. Retrieved 25 May 2011. ^ "House Un-American Activities Committee". Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2010-05-29. Retrieved 25 May 2011. ^ Nightingale, Benedict (September 18, 1988). "Mr. Euripides
Euripides Goes To Washington". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2010. ^ a b Myer, Dillon S. Uprooted Americans. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1971. p. 19. ^ a b Niiya, Brian. "Dies Committee". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 21, 2014. ^ Newton, Michael. The Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi A History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co, 2010, p. 102. ^ Newton, p. 162. ^ Walter Goodman, The Committee, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968 ^ Doug Linder, The Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss Trials - 1949-50 Archived 2006-08-30 at the Wayback Machine., 2003. ^ Dan Georgakas, " Hollywood
Hollywood Blacklist", in: Encyclopedia Of The American Left, 1992. ^ Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. Random House. ISBN 0-89526-571-0. ^ Weinstein, Allen (2013). Perjury. Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 0-81791-225-8. ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives". Archived from the original on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012. ^ Stephen J. Whitfield. The Culture of the Cold War. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996 ^ "The Sixties: House Un-American Activities Committee" at PBS.org ^ Carl Nolte (May 13, 2010). "'Black Friday', birth of U.S. protest movement". San Francisco Chronicle. ^ "Operation Abolition", 1960 on YouTube ^ "Operation Abolition", Time magazine, 1961. ^ Operation Abolition (1960) on YouTube ^ "Operation Abolition", video.google.com and Time magazine, Friday, Mar. 17, 1961. ^ Youth International Party, 1992. ^ Jerry Rubin, A Yippie Manifesto. ^ John Herbers (August 17, 1966). "War Foes Clash With House Panel in Stormy Session After Judges Lift Hearing Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2016. ^ Jim Dann and Hari Dillon. "The Five Retreats: A History of the Failure of the Progressive Labor Party CHAPTER 1: PLP AT ITS PRIME 1963-1966". Marxists.org. Marxists.org. Retrieved December 11, 2016. PLP brought 800 people for 3 days of the sharpest struggle that Capital Hill had seen in 30 years. PL members shocked the inquisitors when they openly proclaimed their communist beliefs and then went on into long sharp detailed explanations, which didn't spare the HUAC Congressmen being called every name in the book. ^ The Harvard Crimson: Thomas Geogheghan, "By Any Other Name. Brass Tacks", February 24, 1969, accessed March 6, 2011 ^ Staples 2006, p. 284. ^ a b Charles E. Schamel, Records of the US House of Representatives, Record Group 233: Records of the House Un-American Activities Committee, 1945-1969 (Renamed the) House Internal Security Committee, 1969-1976. Washington, DC: Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records, July 1995; p. 4.
Staples, William G. (2006). Encyclopedia of Privacy. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-08670-0.
Works by or about
House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee in libraries ( WorldCat
Investigation of un-American propaganda activities in the United
States. Hearings before a
Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives (1938-1944), Volumes 1-17 with Appendices. University of Pennsylvania online gateway to Internet Archive and Hathi Trust. United States House Committee on Internal Security University of Pennsylvania online gateway to Internet Archive and Hathi Trust. Schamel, Gharles E. Inventory of records of the Special
Special Committee on Un-American activities, 1938-1944 (the Dies committee). Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration. Washington, D.C., July 1995. Schamel, Gharles E. Records of the House Un-American Activities committee, 1945-1969, renamed the House Internal Security committee, 1969-1976. Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration. Washington, D.C., July 1995. Ship, Reuben (2000). "From the Archives: The Investigator (1954): A Radio Play by Reuben Ship". The Journal for MultiMedia History. 3.
Bentley, Eric, ed. (2002) [1971, Viking Press]. Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938-1968. Nation Books. ISBN 1-56025-368-1.
Buckley, William F. (1962). The Committee and Its Critics; a Calm Review of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Putnam Books.
Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. Random House. ISBN 0-89526-571-0.
Donner, Frank J. (1967). The Un-Americans. Ballantine Books.
Gladchuk, John Joseph (2006).
Hollywood and Anticommunism: HUAC and the Evolution of the Red Menace, 1935-1950. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-95568-8.
Goodman, Walter (1968). The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Farrar Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-12688-7.
Newton, Michael (2010). The
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi: a history. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4653-7. O'Reilly, Kenneth (1983). Hoover and the Unamericans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace. Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-301-7.
Schmidt, Regin (2000). Red Scare: FBI and the Origins of Anticommunism in the United States, 1919-1943. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 9788772895819. U.S. 86th Congress - House Committee on Un-American Activities (December 1959), "Facts on Communism - Volume I, The Communist Ideology", 75 Stat. 965, House Document No. 336, Internet Archive - Archive.org, p. 166, OCLC 630998985, retrieved 6 October 2013 External link in work= (help) U.S. 87th Congress - House Committee on Un-American Activities (December 1960), "Facts on Communism - Volume II, The Soviet Union, from Lenin to Khrushchev", 75 Stat. 961, House Document No. 139, Internet Archive - Archive.org, p. 408, OCLC 80262328, retrieved 6 October 2013 External link in work= (help)
Bogart, Humphrey (March 1948). "I am no communist". Photoplay. Retrieved 28 August 2013. "Operation Abolition", Time Magazine, March 17, 1961 Seidel, Robert W. (2001). "The National Laboratories and the Atomic Energy Commission in the Early Cold War". Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences. 32 (1): 145–162. doi:10.1525/hsps.2001.32.1.145. JSTOR 3739864.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to House Un-American Activities Committee.
History.House.gov HUAC - permanent standing House Committee on
History.House.gov HUAC - 1948 Alger Hiss-
Whittaker Chambers hearing before HUAC Un-American Activities Committee The Spartacus Educational website, UK House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) Collection: Pamphlets collected by HUAC, many of which the committee deemed "un-American". (4,000 pamphlets). From the Rare Book and Special
Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress
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