The House Un-American Activities Committee Facts

The House Un-American Activities Committee Facts
After Russia became a communist country in 1917, the First Red Scare swept over the United States. Americans were afraid of domestic communist and anarchist organizations taking over the government, which was not without some degree of justification as organizations such as the Industrial Workers of the World openly advocated for and used violence. The First Red Scare died down during the economic boom of the 1920s and the Second Red Scare took place after World War II with the start of the Cold War. Despite a lull in anti-communist activity from the 1920s to the late 1940s, it never went away totally. In 1938 the United States House of Representatives formed an investigative activity known as the House Committee on Un-American Activities. It was charged with investigating both far left and far right political activity in the United States, but primarily focused on those believed to be communists or communist sympathizers. In 1945, when the committee became permanent, it changed its name to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The HUAC was responsible for facilitating the Hollywood "Blacklist" during the 1950s, calling many Hollywood starts, directors, producers, and writers to Congress to testify. The HUAC was disbanded in 1975 at the beginning of the 94th Congress.
Interesting The House Un-American Activities Committee Facts:
Although the HUAC experienced the peak of its power during the era known as "McCarthyism," Senator Joseph McCarthy was never a member as he was in the Senate and the HUAC was a House committee.
The Hollywood hearings took place over a nine day period in 1947.
The HUAC had the power to subpoena but not make arrests, directly. It could, and did, hold people in contempt, which sometimes led to charges.
HUAC members overwhelmingly supported the internment of the Japanese during World War II as they believed that members of the community posed a potential risk during the war.
A number of known and admitted Soviet spies were called to testify before the HUAC, including Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers.
In one of the more controversial HUAC hearings, Chambers named government official Alger Hiss as a spy. Hiss was later convicted and sent to prison for perjury, but denied being a Soviet spy for the remainder of his life. It was thought that the release of the Soviet archives in the 1990s would clear the matter, but experts remain divided on the issue.
Before 1945, the HUAC was often known as the "Dies Committee" because it was chaired by Texas Congressman Martin Dies Junior.
During the early to mid-1930s, the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, a House of Representatives precursor to the HUAC, focused much of its attention on Nazi and fascist activity in the United States.
By the 1960s the HUAC lost much of its aura. For example, when noted "Yippie" activist Jerry Rubin was called to testify before the committee in 1968, he did so dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier.


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