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 ?
The title of this book derives from a description of Abraham Polonsky by Congressman Harold Velde during the 1951 investigation of Hollywood by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC).
Then his world implodes when he is named as a Communist by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and blacklisted by the studios.
But when he inadvertently attracts the attentions of the Committee on UnAmerican Activities - the bullies behind the communist witchhunts - he goes for a drive which ends in near-tragedy.
It will be remembered that the term `UnAmerican' was introduced into the popular vocabulary during the 1950s by Senator Joseph McCarthy's Committee on UnAmerican Activities (Bell, 1979; Hanson, 1996).
Some stories are more humorous than frightening: Dagmar Wilson of Women Strike for Peace remembers how the antinuclear group responded to a 1962 subpoena of its leader by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities with a flood of telegrams from other members volunteering to testify too.
In a December 28, 1999, letter to the officers and governors of the academy Gelfman reported, "As several of you-to whom I spoke earlier-know, when I suggested the idea to Bob Rehme, he explained that the Academy's policy is to remain totally non-political and, after last year's events, any mention of the motion picture industry cooperation with the House Unamerican Activities Committee constitutes a political statement.
The Congress is covered from the 1787 Constitutional Convention decision on the design of the legislature, through confrontation with Presidents, civil war, world war, and unAmerican activities, to live media coverage, the first black woman in the Senate and the return of budget surpluses.
The land of the free spent the first half of the decade in the grip of McCarthyism as the House of Unamerican Activities searched for reds under the bed.
The Stamler case achieved no less than a softening up of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC) for its congressional demise in 1974.
After discussing various incidents in American history where individuals were compelled to confess to what was regarded as heresy, to reveal their beliefs or associations, or to participate in ritualistic affirmation of allegiance (with particular attention to the mid-twentieth century hearings of the House Unamerican Activities Committee and the McCarthy investigations, and the Barnette Pledge of Allegiance case) the author concludes that even though current public opinion generally condemns these incidents and regards them as belonging to a surpassed era, our legal protections against these compulsions are no greater than existed before the 1944 Barnette decision.
Lorence also draws on various Congressional investigations including the Committee on UnAmerican Activities and U.
We showed the controversial film "Operation Abolition" put together by the UnAmerican Activities Committee, with a lively panel discussion critiquing the errors and distortions in the movie.