House Un-American Activities Committee


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House Un-American Activities Committee

(HUAC), a committee (1938–75) of the U.S. House of Representatives, created to investigate disloyalty and subversive organizations. Its first chairman, Martin DiesDies, Martin, Jr.
, 1901–72, American political leader, b. Colorado, Tex. A lawyer, he represented Texas as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1931–45; 1951–59).
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, set the pattern for its anti-Communist investigations. The committee's methods included pressure on witnesses to name former associates, vague and sweeping accusations against individuals, and the assumption of an individual's guilt because of association with a suspect organization. Witnesses who refused to answer were cited for contempt of Congress. A highly publicized 1947 investigation of the entertainment industry led to prison sentences for contempt for a group of recalcitrant witnesses who became known as the Hollywood Ten. In 1948, Whittaker ChambersChambers, Whittaker,
1901–61, U.S. journalist and spy, b. Philadelphia. He joined the U.S. Communist party in 1925 and wrote for its newspaper before engaging (1935–38) in espionage for the USSR. He left the party in 1939 and began working for Time magazine.
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 made sensational accusations of Soviet espionage against former State Dept. official Alger HissHiss, Alger
, 1904–96, American public official, b. Baltimore. After serving (1929–30) as secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hiss practiced law in Boston and New York City.
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; those hearings kept the committee in the headlines and provided the first national exposure for committee member Richard NixonNixon, Richard Milhous,
1913–94, 37th President of the United States (1969–74), b. Yorba Linda, Calif. Political Career to 1968

A graduate of Whittier College and Duke law school, he practiced law in Whittier, Calif.
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. Critics of the committee contended that it disregarded the civil liberties of its witnesses and that it consistently failed to fulfill its primary purpose of recommending new legislation. After 1950, Sen. Joseph McCarthyMcCarthy, Joseph Raymond,
1908–57, U.S. senator from Wisconsin (1947–57), b. near Appleton, Wis. He practiced law in Wisconsin and became (1940) a circuit judge. He served with the U.S. marines in the Pacific in World War II, achieving the rank of captain.
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 borrowed many of the committee's tactics for his own Senate investigations. The committee (renamed the House Internal Security Committee in 1969) was abolished in 1975.

Bibliography

See study by W. Goodman (1968).

House Un-American Activities Committee

conducted investigations to purge government of foreign influences. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1641]
References in periodicals archive ?
Miller did get sentenced to jail for his non-cooperation with the House Un-American Activities Committee, and subsequently became "an icon of moral probity.
In 1938, the House Un-American Activities Committee was established by Congress.
During the "Red Scare" in 1953, he was summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The House Un-American Activities Committee also publicly investigated suspected Communists.
If the history of the twentieth-century could be distilled to just a few key episodes, one of them might be Bertolt Brecht's appearance before a US House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) panel in 1947.
While some of the struggles in the book are well known, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the Free Speech Movement at the University of California during the 1960s, the authors also introduce readers to the less familiar stories of Chinese immigrants who fought against racist and xenophobic laws in the 19th century; the Mexican immigrants (and Mexican Americans) who, in the 1920s and 1930s, were run out of Los Angeles under the guise of legal "repatriation" to their "home" south of the border; and the activists who fought against the red-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s.
In his book Freedom Is as Freedom Does: Civil Liberties in America (first published in 1956), Corliss gives detailed descriptions of the abuses of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and of the intimidating excesses of the McCarthy days, which he describes as the mid-century American witchhunt.
House of Representatives, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), began to investigate Communist influences in Hollywood.
Legislative agency," of course, was exercised indecently and wildly by the House Un-American Activities Committee, by Joe McCarthy, and by their illiberal equivalents in the individual states.
At the height of McCarthyism, Lillian Hellman, like other luminaries, took great pride in defending the civil liberties of Hollywood Reds, declaring to the House Un-American Activities Committee that she would not cut her conscience to suit that year's fashions.
who died on October 31 at eighty-five, was the last of the Hollywood Ten, the group of screenwriters who were persecuted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and ended up in prison for their politics--or for their unwillingness to name names.
That same year, the House Un-American Activities Committee conducted highly publicized hearings into Communist influence in the Hollywood film industry.