Elizabeth Bentley, the “Red Spy Queen”, who identified Mary Price as a Soviet agent before HUAC in 1948. Source: New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/94504253/
In the summer of 1948, Mary Wolfe Price (1909-1980), a Rockingham County native, was in the process of making history as the first woman to run for governor of North Carolina, on the Progressive Party ticket. On July 30, 1948, she and her campaign would receive some extremely unwanted publicity, when she was identified before the Senate Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments as a secret communist party member and former Soviet agent. Price was named by Elizabeth Bentley, a confessed former Soviet espionage operative who identified dozens of individuals as having been part of a communist spy ring inside the U.S. government during World War II. Bentley would expand on her testimony about Price and others in five appearances before the House Un-American Activities Committee between July 31-August 11, 1948, making headlines in North Carolina and across the nation.
Price strongly denied Bentley’s charges, and would continue to do so for the rest of her life. For several decades, Price would be portrayed as a victim of baseless, McCarthyite persecution. Since 1995, however, post Cold War archival revelations have forced historians to reconsider this view.
Please see our forthcoming August post for a detailed account of the Price-Bentley controversy and what we now know about it.
Courtesy of YouTube, footage of Army attorney Joseph Welch’s famous denunciation of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), during the Army-McCarthy hearings, June 9, 1954: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
June 9th marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most iconic moments in 20th Century American politics, the televised confrontation that marked both the beginning of the end of one of the controversial politicians in American history, as well as the instant when, in the words of author Robert Shogan, “television became the dominant force in American politics.” This was when a Boston lawyer named Joseph Welch would rebuke Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WI) with a phrase that would resonate in American culture down to the present day, defining for many the negative side of countersubversive anti-communism.
1. The Rise of Joe McCarthy
McCarthy, elected to the Senate in 1946 after serving as a Marine intelligence officer in World War II, would first make his name as a “red-hunter” in February 1950. That month, McCarthy gave a blockbuster speech in Wheeling, WV, alleging widespread communist infiltration of the U.S. State Department. The resulting firestorm of controversy made McCarthy a national figure, revered by many countersubversive anti-communists, but hated by many moderates and liberals.
McCarthy thrived on the notoriety. He would remain in the news by making numerous charges of communist sympathies and even Soviet espionage against current and former officials in the State and Defense departments. On June 14, 1951, McCarthy made his infamous “a conspiracy so immense” speech, in which he viciously attacked the former Army Chief of Staff and Secretary of State George C. Marshall. “Without putting it in so many words,” as historian David M. Oshinsky put it, McCarthy “called the general a traitor to his country.” (Oshinsky, A Conspiracy so Immense, 200)
2. McCarthy vs. the Army
McCarthy would reach the pinnacle of his power in 1953. With Republicans winning a Senate majority in the 1952 congressional elections, McCarthy assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Government Operations and its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (SPSI). As Chair of SPSI, McCarthy now had an institutional platform from which to launch investigations of real and alleged communists in the U.S. government.
After investigating such agencies as the Voice of America and the Government Printing Office, McCarthy and SPSI soon focused on the U.S. Army as a suitable target. SPSI launched inquiries of suspected disloyalty among Army civilian workers, as well as among servicemen at the Army Signal Corps facility at Ft. Monmouth, NJ. These investigations led to an increasingly bitter confrontation between Senator McCarthy and the Army, punctuated by the Wisconsin senator’s angry grilling of Brigadier General Ralph Zwicker at a hearing in February 1954. In March, the Army demanded that McCarthy fire his lead counsel, Roy Cohn, or else they would release a dossier documenting Cohn’s demands that the Army grant favorable treatment to David Schine, a McCarthy staffer drafted into the Army the previous year. McCarthy refused, and the Army released the dossier on March 11, 1954. McCarthy responded by accusing the Army of trying to blackmail him and otherwise obstruct SPSI’s efforts to investigate Army security lapses.
3. The Army-McCarthy Hearings
In the wake of this controversy, Senator McCarthy stepped down as Chair of SPSI. The subcommittee decided to conduct its own, public investigation of the “charges and countercharges” between McCarthy and the Army. As a party to the controversy, McCarthy was not allowed to sit on the subcommittee, but was permitted to attend and cross-examine witnesses. The Army’s appointed counsel, a Boston lawyer named Joseph Nye Welch, was given the same privileges. The hearings, which were televised live, began on April 22, 1954.
Over the course of the hearings, McCarthy found himself increasingly frustrated by the seemingly mild-mannered Welch. In Shogan’s words, McCarthy “endured Welch’s well-bred, taunting voice, his cultured sarcasm, his grating fondness for self-deprecation. And all the while the senator saw his own reputation . . . slowly crumbling away.” McCarthy’s frustrations came to a head on June 9th. In the middle of Welch’s questioning of Roy Cohn, the senator from Wisconsin interjected to note that a young lawyer in Welch’s law firm, Fred Fisher, had once been a member of the communist-affiliated National Lawyers’ Guild. This despite the fact that Welch had made a deal with Roy Cohn not to bring up Fisher in return for not referring to Cohn’s draft deferrals, a deal that McCarthy had approved:
Senator MCCARTHY. Not exactly, Mr. Chairman, but in view of Mr. Welch’s request that the information be given once we know of anyone who might be performing any work for the Communist Party, I think we should tell him that he has in his law firm a young man named Fisher whom he recommended, incidentally, to do work on this committee, who has been for a number of years a member of an organization which was named, oh, years and years ago, as the legal bulwark of the Communist Party, an organization which always swings to the defense of anyone who dares to expose Communists. (Special Senate Investigation, pt. 59, 2426-2427)
Welch’s devastating response to McCarthy’s heavy-handed maneuver would become one of the most memorable quotes in American political history:
Let us not assassinate this lad further. Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? (Special Senate Investigation, pt. 59, 2429)
This exchange has come to epitomize McCarthy’s brazenly confrontational style of public debate, what Oshinsky has described as “his windy speeches, his endless interruptions, his frightening outbursts. his crude personal attacks.” (Oshinsky, A Conspiracy so Immense, 464) It marked the culmination of a months-long decline in McCarthy’s popularity.
The Army-McCarthy hearings concluded on June 17, 1954. Their main impact was to deal an irreparable blow to McCarthy’s prestige and popularity. The Senate would vote to censure McCarthy in December, 1954, after which the senator from Wisconsin faded from the headlines until his death in 1957. His name would become a byword for all the excesses of the post WWII campaign against domestic communism.
Army Signal Corps – Subversion and Espionage. Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, First (-Second) Session, pursuant to S. Res. 189. 1953-54, 11 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.G 74/6: AR 5/)
Communist Infiltration Among Army Civilian Workers. Hearing before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, First Session, pursuant to S. Res. 189. 1953. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.G 74/6: C 73/2)
Communist Infiltration in the Army. Hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, First (-Second) Session, pursuant to S. Res. 189. 1953-54, 4 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS Y 4.G 74/6: C 73/3)
Executive Sessions of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, 1953-54. 2003, 5 v. + index. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.G 74/9: S.PRT. 107-84/)
Hearings on S. Res. 301. Hearings before a Select Committee to Study Censure Charges, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session, pursuant to the order on S. Res. 301 and amendments. 1954, 2 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.C 33/4: H 35)
Special Senate Investigation on Charges and Countercharges Involving: Secretary of the Army Robert T. Stevens, John G. Adams, H. Struve Hensel and Senator Joe McCarthy, Roy M. Cohn, and Francis P. Carr. Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session, pursuant to S. Res. 189. 1954, 71 pts. + index. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.G 74/6: ST 4/)
State Department Employee Loyalty Investigation. Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-First Congress, Second Session, pursuant to S. Res. 231. 1950, 3 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.F 76/2: St2/2/)
Morgan, Ted. Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America. New York: Random House, 2003. (Joyner Stacks: E743.5 .M578 2003)
Oshinsky, David M. A Conspiracy so Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy. New York: Free Press, 1983. (Joyner Stacks: E748.M143 O73 1983)
Shogan, Robert. No Sense of Decency: The Army-McCarthy Hearings: A Demagogue Falls and Television Takes Charge of American Politics. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2009. (Joyner Stacks: UB23 .S53 2009)
The American South was not a major focus of congressional countersubversive investigations, for a number of reasons. The primary one was that the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) was much weaker in the south compared to the industrial northeast and the west coast. In addition, a number of those countersubversive investigations that did touch on the south were actually investigations of radical right-wing organizations, such as the Silver Legion of America in the 1930s, or the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s. Despite all this, from the 1920s to the 1950s the CPUSA was active in the American South in areas such as labor organizing and civil rights. Such efforts did attract the attention of congressional countersubversive investigating committees, much of whose membership was motivated by a desire to label all efforts at union organization and African-American equality as communist inspired.
The following is a brief bibliography of publications stemming from congressional investigations of real and alleged communist activity in the American South. It is not a comprehensive list, and, as primary source documents, these items should be used judiciously and in concert with relevant secondary historical studies.
1. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) Investigations
Communist Infiltration and Activities in the South. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fifth Congress, Second Session. 1958. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/95; circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/95, currently checked out)
Investigation of Communist Activities in the New Orleans, La., Area. Hearing Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fifth Congress, First Session. 1957. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/73/)
Investigation of Communist Activities in the North Carolina Area. Hearing Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session. 1956. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/63/; circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/63, currently checked out)
-Transcript of hearings held in Charlotte, NC from March 12-14, 1956.
Investigation of Communist Activities in the State of Florida. Hearing Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session. 1954, 2 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/54/; circulating copy of pt. 1 in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/54/pt.1)
Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, Volume 10. Hearings Before a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-Sixth Congress, First Session. 1939. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: Un 1/V. 9-10)
-Contains the testimony of Fred Beal, a disillusioned former communist who had been involved in the CPUSA’s campaign to organize the 1929 Gastonia, NC textile workers’ strike. Beal’s testimony can be found from pages 6006-6042.
Report on Southern Conference for Human Welfare. Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives, Eightieth Congress, First Session. June 16, 1947. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: Un 1/RPT. 592)
-The Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW), active from 1938-1948, was alleged to be a CPUSA front organization.
Testimony of Paul Crouch. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-First Congress, First Session. 1949. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 88; additional copy in Joyner Hoover: HX89 .A4 1949F)
-Crouch (1903-1955), a North Carolina native, was a longtime CPUSA member before turning anti-communist informant.
2. Other Congressional Investigations
Communism in the Mid-South. Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-Fifth Congress, First Session. 1957. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. J 89/2: C 73/16)
Southern Conference Educational Fund, Inc. Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session. 1954. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. J 89/2: So 8)
-The Educational Fund, a SCHW spinoff organization, was likewise alleged to be a CPUSA front.
3. Secondary Sources
Billingsley, William J. Communists on Campus: Race, Politics, and the Public University in Sixties North Carolina. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999. (Joyner Stacks: LC72.3.N67 B55 1999; currently checked out)
Honey, Michael K. Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. (Joyner Electronic Collection E-Book: ECU users click here)
Kelley, Robin D.G. Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. (Joyner Stacks: HX91.A2K45 1990)
Korstad, Robert Rodgers. Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. (Joyner NC Stacks: HD6515.T6 K67 2003; two copies)
Lieberman, Robbie. Anticommunism and the African American Freedom Movement: “Another Side of the Story.” New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. (Joyner Stacks: E 185.61 .A585 2009)
Record, Wilson. The Negro and the Communist Party. New York: Atheneum, 1971. (Joyner Stacks: E185.61 .R29 1971)
Salmond, John A. Gastonia, 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. (Joyner NC Stacks: HD5325.T42 1929 G377 1995)
Taylor, Gregory S.. The History of the North Carolina Communist Party. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2009. (Joyner NC Stacks: HX91.N8 T39 2009; 2 copies)
Taylor, Gregory S. The Life and Lies of Paul Crouch : Communist, Opportunist, Cold War Snitch. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2014. (Joyner Stacks: E748.C949 T39 2014; currently in process/available on request)
The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) went through a number of different phases in its long and controversial history. Having enjoyed a brief beginning in 1934-35, HUAC was reborn as the House Special Committee on Un-American Activities in 1938. Known as the Dies Committee after its chairman, Rep. Martin Dies, Jr. (D-TX), the committee made headlines as it investigated communist, Nazi, fascist and Japanese activities deemed subversive. The Dies Committee, and its chairman, placed a particular focus on pursuing communist and other radical left activities, examining such bodies as the Federal Theater Project and seeking to draw links between the Roosevelt Administration and New Deal and the Communist Party (CPUSA). In the words of historian Richard Gid Powers:
The information the Committee collected in the thirties still forms the foundation for much of what we know today about communism in that decade. But the Committee really was not all that interested in simply collecting and publishing facts on the Communist Party and its activities. It was far more intent on using that information as ammunition for red-smearing attacks on the administration, attacks on the union movement, and attacks on unpopular opinions and associations. (Powers, Not Without Honor, 128)
This legacy would be embodied in the final act of the Dies Committee, the release of a publication that would provide much of the raw data used by self-appointed “red hunters” to determine candidates for blacklisting in the 1950s.
J.B. Matthews and Appendix IX
The individual most directly responsible for collecting the information used by the Dies Committee was its chief investigator, Dr. Joseph B. (J.B.) Matthews. A former Methodist missionary who held a divinity degree, Matthews turned to socialism in the early 1930s. He soon became what was known as a “fellow traveler”, a non-communist who agreed with the communists on almost every issue and participated in numerous communist-led organizations. He had a falling out with the communists after a CPUSA-led strike at Consumers’ Research, where Matthews was a top official. During the course of this strike, Matthews was publicly vilified by the CPUSA, an experience that turned him into a bitter opponent of the party.
Matthews testified before the Dies Committee in August 1938 as an expert witness on the CPUSA and its many front organizations, drawing on both his personal experiences and on a voluminous set of files he had begun to accumulate. Shortly afterwards, Dies hired Matthews to serve as the committee’s chief researcher. “For the next six years,” in the words of historian Robert M. Lichtman, “under Matthews’s guidance, the committee directed its fire at alleged Communists and left-leaning New Deal officials, even during World War II when anti-communism was not in vogue.” (Lichtman, “J. B. Matthews”, 7)
By 1944, the Dies Committee was in serious political trouble. The committee’s mandate was set to expire, and it looked likely that it would not be renewed. Dies himself, facing a serious political challenge from the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ Political Action Committee (CIO-PAC), as well as health issues, decided in May that he would not run for reelection. In its final act, however, the committee would use J.B. Matthews’s files to strike one last blow against CIO-PAC and its other opponents.
Late in 1944, fearing that the end of the committee meant that J.B. Matthews’s voluminous files would disappear with it, a subcommittee of the Dies Committee authorized the official publication of Matthews’s files as what became known as Appendix IX. Titled Communist Front Organizations, with Special Reference to the National Citizens Political Action Committee, the seven volume set numbered 2,138 pages. Only 7,000 sets were produced by the Government Printing Office, and these were distributed to a number of government agencies and private individuals. According to Lichtman, “The index to Appendix IX… contained the names of 22,000 individuals and organizations—many Communist, many not. (Lichtman, “J. B. Matthews”, 8)
Ironically enough, Matthews’s fears for the safety of his files ultimately proved to be unnecessary. In early 1945, a parliamentary maneuver by Rep. John Rankin (D-MS) not only saved HUAC, but turned it into a permanent House committee. The newly-created HUAC, realizing the problems that could be caused by public access to “the raw and undifferentiated character of the information in Appendix IX,” recalled the document. (Lichtman, “J. B. Matthews”, 9) A few copies of Appendix IX survived, however, and in the hands of professional countersubversives soon became a key source of names for blacklisting within the entertainment industry.
Appendix IX was reprinted in 1963 in three volumes by a publishing house in California. While original 1944 editions are extremely rare, copies of the 1963 reprint can occasionally be found. Joyner Library’s J. Edgar Hoover Collection on International Communism, which contains over 5,000 titles related to communism and anti-communism, held two copies of Appendix IX, one of which they have generously provided to the Cold War & Internal Security Collection. The CWIS Collection thanks Joyner Library’s Manuscripts & Rare Books Department for their generosity in helping to fill this gap in our collection.
Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States. [Hearings] Seventy-Eighth Congress, Second Session on H. Res. 282. Appendix, Part IX: Communist Front Organizations, With Special Reference to the National Citizens Political Action Committee. 1944, 3 v. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4.UN 1/2:UN 1/944/APP./; also available in Joyner Hoover E743.5 .A412)
Goodman, Walter. The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1968. (Joyner Stacks E743.5 .G64)
Lichtman, Robert M. “J. B. Matthews and the ‘Countersubversives’: Names as a Political and Financial Resource in the McCarthy Era.” American Communist History, 5, 1 (2006): 1-36. DOI: 10.1080/14743890600763848
Powers, Richard Gid. Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism. New York: Free Press, 1995. (Joyner Stacks E743.5 .P65 1995)
Sowing on a Soviet collective farm in the Ukraine, sometime between 1930-1940. Source: U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White Photographs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001045774/PP/
The following is a select list of documents from Joyner Library’s Cold War & Internal Security (CWIS) Collection that discuss Ukraine, along with additional relevant federal documents. Most focus on the plight of Ukraine under Soviet rule, especially in the 1930s, when over 3,000,000 Ukrainians died from a famine deliberately used by the Soviet regime to break peasant resistance to the collectivization of agriculture and popular support for Ukrainian nationalism. (Werth, “Great Ukrainian Famine”) While, like all primary sources they should be used with care, these documents offer some historical perspective on the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
1. CWIS Documents on Ukraine
The Crimes of Khrushchev: Part 2. Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Sixth Congress, First Session. September 1959. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4 Un 1/2: K 52/Pt. 2)
Facts on Communism: Volume II: The Soviet Union from Lenin to Khrushchev. Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Sixth Congress, Second Session. December 1960. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4 Un 1/2: C 73/108/V. 2)
The Human Cost of Soviet Communism: Prepared at the Request of Senator Thomas J. Dodd, for the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. 1970 (Joyner Docs CWIS Y 4. J 89/2: SO 8/19)
Investigation of Communist Takeover and Occupation of the Non-Russian Nations of the U.S.S.R. Eighth Interim Report of Hearings before the Select Committee on Communist Aggression, House of Representatives, Eighty-Third Congress, Second Session, under authority of H. Res. 346 and H. Res. 438. 1954. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. C 73/5: R 92)
Lest We Forget: A Pictorial Summary of Communism in Action [in] Albania [and other countries]: Consultation with Klaus Samuli Gunnar Romppanen, Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Sixth Congress, Second Session. January 13, 1960. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4 Un 1/2: C 73/109; additional circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Un 1/2: C 73/109)
The Soviet Empire: A Study in Discrimination and Abuse of Power. Prepared by the Legislative Reference Service, Library of Congress at the request of the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. 1965. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4. J 89/2: SO 8/5/965)
2. Additional Federal Documents on Ukraine
Commission on the Ukraine Famine Act: Hearing before the Subcommittee on International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-Eighth Congress, Second Session. October 3, 1984. (Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. F 76/1: Uk 7/2)
Favoring Extension of Diplomatic Relations with the Republics of Ukraine and Byelorussia. Hearings before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Special Subcommittee on House Concurrent Resolution 58, Eighty-Third Congress, First Session. July 15, 1953. (Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. F 76/1: Uk 7)
Focus on Serious Challenges Facing Ukraine: Briefing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. May 1994. (Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Se 2: Uk 7/2)
Human Rights–Ukraine and the Soviet Union: Hearing and Markup before the Committee on Foreign Affairs and its Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations, House of Representatives, Ninety-Seventh Congress, First Session, on H. Con. Res. 111 ; H. Res. 152 ; H. Res. 193. 1981. (Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. F 76/1: H 88/18)
Investigation of the Ukrainian Famine, 1932-1933: Report to Congress. Commission on the Ukraine Famine, 1988. (Joyner Docs Stacks Y 3. Uk 7: F 21/988)
Oral History Project of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine. Commission on the Ukraine Famine, 1990, 3 v. (Joyner Docs Stacks Y 3. Uk 7: F 21/990/v.1-3)
Ukraine’s Presidential Election: The Turning Point?: Briefing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. November 16, 2004. (Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Se 2: Uk 7/3)
The Ukrainian Elections: Implications for Ukraine’s Future Direction: Briefing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. October 25, 2007. (Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4. Se 2: Uk 7/4)
Actor/singer Paul Robeson, June 1942. Long controversial for his outspokenly pro-Soviet views, Robeson would appear before HUAC in 1956. Source:U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White Photographs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/item/fsa1998023680/PP/
In honor of African-American History Month, here is a brief bibliography of publications relevant to African-American History from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and its successor, the House Committee on Internal Security. Please note that this list is far from exhaustive:
Activities of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in the United States. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Ninth Congress, First (-Second) Session. 1965-66, 5 pts. + index (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: K 95; circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4: Un 1/2: K 95)
The American Negro in the Communist Party. Prepared and Released by the Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives. December 22, 1954. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: N 31)
Black Panther Party. Hearings Before the Committee on Internal Security, House of Representatives, Ninety-First Congress, Second Session. 1970-71, 4 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: In 8/15: B 56)
The Black Panther Party: Its Origin and Development as Reflected in its Official Weekly Newspaper The Black Panther, Black Community News Service: Staff Study. Committee on Internal Security, House of Representatives, Ninety-First Congress, Second Session. 1970. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: In 8/15: B 56/2)
Gun-Barrel Politics, the Black Panther Party, 1966-1971. Report by the Committee on Internal Security, House of Representatives, Ninety-Second Congress, First Session. August 18, 1971. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 1.1/8: 92-470)
Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of Minority Groups. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty First Congress, First Session. 1949-50, 3 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/11/)
-Pt. 1 includes testimony by baseball legend Jackie Robinson. The transcript of Robinson’s appearance can be found on p. 479-83.
Investigation of the Unauthorized Use of United States Passports, Part 3. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session. June 12-13, 1956. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: P 26/pt. 3; circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4: Un 1/2: P 26/pt. 3)
-Features the transcript of African-American actor/singer Paul Robeson’s only appearance before HUAC. Robeson’s testimony can be found from p. 4492-4510.
Subversive Influences in Riots, Looting, and Burning. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Ninetieth Congress, First (-Second) Session. 1968-69, 6 pts. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: R 47/)
Pete Seeger arrives at a Federal courthouse for sentencing with his banjo over his shoulder, April 4, 1961. Seeger had been convicted of contempt of Congress on March 29 for his refusal to cooperate with HUAC in 1955. Seeger was sentenced to a year in prison, but his conviction was overturned on appeal the following year. Source: New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002709318/
On January 27, 2014, the well-known folk singer and left-wing activist Pete Seeger passed away at the age of 94. In his youth, Seeger’s radical politics led him to affiliate with the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA). He joined the Young Communist League in 1936 and the CPUSA itself several years later. After serving in the army during World War II, Seeger resumed his musical career as part of the famous folk act The Weavers. His musical prominence and continued ties to the CPUSA soon brought him to the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which by the early 1950s had adopted the mindset that communism was an alien influence that must be removed root and branch from American society.
On August 18, 1955, Pete Seeger appeared before a session of the House Un-American Activities Committee held in New York City. During his testimony before HUAC, Seeger refused to answer any questions about his political beliefs or associations. He did not, however, invoke the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution as grounds for not answering such questions. Instead, he flatly declined on principle to provide such information. As he told the committee early in his appearance:
I am not going to answer any questions as to my associations, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.
I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it. (Investigation of Communist Activities, New York Area. Part 7, p. 2449)
Seeger’s refusal to cooperate with HUAC resulted in his being indicted for contempt of Congress. He was ultimately convicted of this charge in March 1961, and sentenced to a year in prison. However, his conviction was overturned on appeal the following year.
Ironically, Seeger had already quietly backed away from the CPUSA by the time he appeared before HUAC. Eventually, he would openly abandon communism, performing at a 1982 benefit for the anti-communist Polish labor union Solidarity and condemning Joseph Stalin in his 1993 memoirs. After being blacklisted in the 1950s, Seeger reemerged in the 1960s as one of the main influences on that decade’s folk revival, while his song “We Shall Overcome” became one of the anthems of the civil rights movement. Seeger performed at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration and remained active in supporting liberal and left-wing causes until his death.
The official transcript of Pete Seeger’s appearance before HUAC can be found in:
Investigation of Communist Activities, New York Area. Part 7: Entertainment. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, First Session. August 17-18, 1955. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/55/pt. 7; additional circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/55/pt. 7)
Seeger’s testimony can be found from p. 2447-2460. Additional CWIS documents referencing Pete Seeger include:
Communist Activities Among Youth Groups (Based on Testimony of Harvey M. Matusow). Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Second Congress, Second Session. February 6-7, 1952. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/29)
Investigation of Communist Activities, New York Area. Part 6: Entertainment. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Fourth Congress, First Session. August 15-16, 1955. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/55/pt. 6; additional circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/55/pt. 6)
Testimony of Walter S. Steele Regarding Communist Activities in the U.S. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eightieth Congress, First Session. July 21, 1947. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: St 3)
Note: Dr. David Cunningham, author of Klansville USA: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan, the definitive history of the Klan in eastern North Carolina, is speaking at Sheppard Memorial Library on Wednesday, October 16, at 4:30 PM. Anyone interested in this topic is strongly encouraged to attend. Dr. Cunningham’s visit is sponsored by the ECU Department of Sociology.
1. HUAC Turns its Attention to the Klan
By 1965, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) had grown increasingly unpopular and controversial. As the transformation of American culture and society in the 1960s unfolded, HUAC increasingly looked like an anachronism at best and a serious threat to civil liberties at worst. Despite its origins as a special committee to investigate Nazi propaganda in 1934 and its periodic inquiries into domestic Nazi and fascist groups in the 1930s and 40s, by the late 1950s HUAC had adopted the position that it was only empowered to investigate the Communist Party (CPUSA) and other left-wing groups believed to be “subversive” or “un-American.” This bias was one of the major factors contributing to the growing outcry against HUAC and other congressional countersubversive committees. Thus, by 1965 the committee now welcomed the opportunity to investigate a right-wing extremist organization. With the civil rights revolution at its height, just such a target was readily at hand: the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
HUAC had begun a preliminary inquiry into the Klan in late 1964. On March 30, 1965, just five days after the Klan murdered Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit woman working with the civil rights movement in Alabama, HUAC voted unanimously to launch a full investigation of the KKK. Interestingly, many civil rights organizations opposed HUAC’s investigation, fearing that it would be turned against themselves instead of the Klan.
The most important driving force behind HUAC’s decision to initiate a full-scale inquiry into the KKK was one of the committee’s newest members, Rep. Charles L. Weltner (D-GA). Weltner, representing a district from Atlanta, was the only representative from a former Confederate state to vote for passage of the final version of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He joined HUAC in 1965 eager to use its broad investigative powers against the Klan.
HUAC began its hearings into the KKK in October 1965. A special subcommittee held hearings from October 19, 1965 to February 24, 1966, and published a final report in December 1967. The committee found that there were a number of separate Klan organizations in the United States, of which the United Klans of America (UKA) was the largest and most powerful. October 1965 testimony by HUAC investigator Philip Manuel revealed that there were an estimated 112 UKA klaverns (local chapters) in North Carolina, making it, in Manuel’s words, “by far the most active state in terms of Klaverns and membership of the UKA.” (Activities of Ku Klux Klan in the U.S., pt. 1, p. 1553)
Of these 112 local Klan chapters, seven were found in Pitt County. Like all UKA klaverns, the ones in Pitt County had innocuous sounding cover names. According to Manuel’s testimony, these seven klaverns were the following:
Benevolent Association No. 53 (Greenville)
Ogden Christian Fellowship Club No. 53 (Greenville)
The Benevolent Association (Winterville)
Pitt County Improvement Association No. 37 (Farmville)
Ayden Christian Fellowship Club (Ayden)
Grifton Christian Society (Grifton)
Fountain Klavern (cover name not given)
Each of the counties adjacent to Pitt also contained at least one UKA klavern (Lenoir County had five). In short, as noted journalist Stewart Alsop wrote in a April 1966 profile of the Klan in North Carolina for the Saturday Evening Post: “The hard core of the Klan is in the flat, sandy, cotton-and-tobacco country in the eastern part of the state.” (Alsop, “Portrait”)
3. HUAC Investigates the Klan in Pitt County
Farmville native James Huey “Sonny” Fisher, Grand Klokkard (state lecturer) for the North Carolina Realm of the United Klans of America, speaks at an October 1965 Klan rally in Greenville. Fisher would testify before HUAC on October 22, 1965. Image courtesy of ECU Digital Collections: http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/8603
With the UKA heavily active in North Carolina, and in eastern North Carolina in particular, it is no surprise that HUAC’s investigation would eventually impact Greenville and Pitt County. Two witnesses, one non-cooperative, one very much cooperative, would travel from Pitt County to testify before HUAC.
James Huey “Sonny” Fisher was a native of Farmville, where he was a leader of the Pitt County Improvement Association (aka: the Farmville UKA Klavern). He also served as the Grand Klokkard (state lecturer) for the North Carolina Realm of the UKA. As such, he was one of a number of North Carolina Klan leaders subpoenaed to testify before HUAC. He duly appeared before the committee on October 22, 1965, where he was accompanied, as were most UKA witnesses, by Raleigh-based attorney Lester V. Chalmers, Jr. During his testimony, Fisher politely declined to answer any questions, nor produce any requested documents, citing his rights under the 5th, 1st, 4th, and 14th amendments to the Constitution – as did most UKA witnesses – after which Fisher was excused . (Activities of Ku Klux Klan in the U.S., pt. 1, p. 1869-1876)
The testimony of the other witness from Pitt County, George Leonard Williams, was much more informative in nature. A former Klansman and resident of Greenville, Williams appeared before HUAC on January 28, 1966. In his testimony, Williams recounted that he had joined the Greenville Klavern (Benevolent Association No. 53) on July 28, 1965, In October, he switched to the Pactolus Klavern (Pactolus Hunting Club), where he would remain as a member until he left the Klan in mid-November 1965. Williams testified that he was motivated to join the Klan by its strident opposition to civil rights and racial integration. On August 31, 1965, he was shot and wounded in an altercation with an African-American man in Plymouth, NC, where he was one of nearly 1,000 UKA members, nearly all from outside Plymouth, who made a show of force in response to local civil rights demonstrations. This incident, along with a violent incident between members of the Greenville and Pactolus Klaverns and perceived financial irregularities, persuaded Williams to leave the Klan. Subsequent threats made against him by the Klan motivated him to appear before HUAC.
Williams testified that the Klan had about 40 active members in the Greenville area, with about 340 listed on the books. He explained this discrepancy by stating that “Most of the Klan, the people that get into the Klan go and join, and after they get in and find out what they are in, they don’t never come back no more.” (Activities of Ku Klux Klan in the U.S., pt. 3, p. 2891) According to his account, the Pactolus Klavern itself split off from the UKA to join a local Klan offshoot.
While HUAC conducted a number of investigations pertaining to North Carolina, even holding hearings in Charlotte in 1956 on the CPUSA presence in the state, the 1965-66 Klan investigation is the only one in the committee’s history that directly involved Greenville and Pitt County.
The author gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of Matt Reynolds, Digital Collections Librarian, with the research for this post.
Activities of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in the United States. Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Ninth Congress, First (-Second) Session. 1965-66, 5 pts. + index (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: K 95; additional circulating copy in Joyner Docs Stacks: Y 4: Un 1/2: K 95)
The Present-Day Ku Klux Klan Movement. Report by the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Ninetieth Congress, First Session. December 11, 1967. (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 1.1/7: 90-377; additional circulating copy in Joyner NC Stacks: HS2330 .K63 A56. Also available in U.S. Congressional Serial Set; ECU users only)
Alsop, Stewart. “Portrait of a Klansman.” Saturday Evening Post, 239, 8 (April 9, 1966): 23-27.
Cunningham, David. Klansville USA: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. (Joyner NC Stacks HS2330 .K63 C75 2013)
Goodman, Walter. The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1968. (Joyner Stacks E743.5 .G64)
Oakley, Christopher Arris, Matthew Reynolds and Dale Sauter. Greenville in the 20th Century. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2013. (Joyner Special Collections Ref. F264.G8 O25 2013)
NSA defectors William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell at the Moscow press conference announcing their defection, July 1, 1960. Image via National Security Agency Cryptologic Heritage website: http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/60th/1960s/index.shtml#photos
It’s a story filled with uncanny parallels that could be plucked directly from today’s headlines: young men working with the National Security Agency (NSA) who grow disillusioned by what they find, abscond with classified information, and end up seeking asylum in Moscow. Fifty-three years before Edward Snowden left his job as a consultant with the NSA and ultimately pursued refuge in Moscow, a pair of disillusioned NSA employees, William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell, defected to the Soviet Union.
Martin and Mitchell started with the NSA in 1957. According to subsequent government investigations, both may have secretly joined the Communist Party and likely visited Cuba in late 1959. According to authors Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, Mitchell visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City in December 1959 and asked for political asylum. Despite KGB efforts to persuade him to stay in NSA and serve as an agent, he and Martin insisted that they preferred to defect. On June 25, 1960, Martin and Mitchell boarded a flight from Washington for Mexico City. From there, they traveled subsequently to Cuba and then the Soviet Union. On August 1, the Department of Defense announced that Martin and Mitchell were missing, later acknowledging on August 5 that it was likely that the two men had fled to the Eastern Bloc. On August 11, 1960, William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell were officially granted asylum in the USSR and each awarded a monthly allowance 0f 500 rubles, roughly equal to their NSA salaries.
On September 6, 1960, Martin and Mitchell held a press conference in Moscow to announce their defections. Martin explained their decision as follows:
We were employees of the highly secret National Security Agency, which gathers communications intelligence from almost all nations of the world for use by the U.S. Government. However, the simple act that the U.S. Government is engaged in delving into the secrets of other nations had little or nothing to do with our decision to defect. Our main dissatisfaction concerns some of the practices the United States uses in gathering intelligence information. We were worried about the U.S. policy of deliberately violating the airspace of other nations and the U.S. Government’s practice of lying about such violations in a manner intended to mislead public opinion. Furthermore, we were disenchanted by the U.S. Government’s practice of intercepting and deciphering the secret communications of its own allies. Finally, we objected to the fact that the U.S. Government was willing to go so far as to recruit agents from among the personnel of its allies. (NSA/CSS 60th Anniversary Timeline)
The very next day, September 7, 1960, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) would launch an investigation of the Martin-Mitchell defections and their potential impact on American national security. HUAC’s investigation would last 13 months, using over 2,000 hours of staff work and producing 16 executive-session (closed to the public) hearings, featuring testimony from 34 current or former NSA employees.
In August 1962, HUAC would release a 23 page report summarizing its findings. Among other things, the report would question the validity of the polygraph as a tool for detecting possible security risks. In a reflection of then prevailing attitudes toward homosexuality, the document also made much of allegations that Martin and Mitchell were gay, citing this as a factor in their defection. Journalist Rick Anderson, however, has shown that Martin and Mitchell were not, in fact, gay.
An NSA historical overview of the case noted that “It is believed that there was very little damage” done to U.S. intelligence efforts as a result of the defection. (“Betrayers of the Trust”) This is confirmed by Andrew and Mitrokhin, who write that the KGB was “disappointed” in the quality of the information supplied by Martin and Mitchell. (Andrew & Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield, p. 179) The feeling was soon to be mutual. Despite their relatively generous stipends and both marrying Soviet women, Martin and Mitchell quickly became disillusioned by the realities of life in the USSR. Neither man ever returned to the United States: Martin dying in Mexico in 1987 and Mitchell in Russia in 2001.
Security Practices in the National Security Agency (Defection of Bernon F. Mitchell and William H. Martin). Report by the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-Seventh Congress, Second Session. August 13, 1962. (Not yet part of CWIS Collection: Available in ProQuest Congressional; ECU users only)
My Joyner Library colleague Joseph Thomas has written a very good overview of the CWIS Collection for the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of North Carolina Libraries. The article is available in PDF format from the NCL website. Please give it a read: