Guided Readings: Anti-Communism at Home

Reading 1

Sec. 2: (a) It shall be unlawful for any person—

(1) to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of such government;

(2) with the intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any government in the United States, to print, publish, edit, issue, circulate, sell, distribute, or publicly display any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence;

(3) to organize or help to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any government in the United States by force or violence; or to be or become a member of, or affiliate with, any such society, group or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof.

The Alien Registration Act of 1940 (Smith Act, 76th United States Congress, 3d session, ch. 439, 54 Stat. 670, 18 U.S.C. § 2385, enacted June 29, 1940) 

Reading 2

Part I.
1. There shall be a loyalty investigation of every person entering the civilian employment of any department or agency of the executive branch of the federal government.

Part II.
2. The head of each department and agency shall appoint one or more loyalty boards . . . for the purpose of hearing loyalty cases . . .

Part V.

  1. The standard for the refusal of employment or the removal from employment in an executive department or agency on grounds relating to loyalty shall be that, on all the evidence, reasonable grounds exist for belief that the person involved is disloyal to the government of the United States.
  2. Activities and associations of an applicant or employee which may be considered in connection with the determination of disloyalty may include one or more of the following:

a. Sabotage, espionage, or attempts or preparations therefore, or knowingly associating with spies or saboteurs;
b. Treason or sedition or advocacy thereof;
c. Advocacy of revolution or force or violence to alter the constitutional form of government of the United States;
d. Intentional, unauthorized disclosure to any person, under circumstances which may indicate disloyalty to the United States, of documents or information of a confidential or nonpublic character obtained by the person making the disclosure as a result of his employment by the government of the United States.
f. Membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association with any foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, group or combination of persons, designated by the attorney general as totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive, or as having adopted a policy of advocating or approving the commission of acts of force or violence to deny other persons their rights under the Constitution of the United States, or as seeking to alter the form of government of the United States by unconstitutional means.

Executive Order 9835, (the "Loyalty Order"), signed by President Harry S. Truman on March 21, 1947

Reading 3

(1) There exists a world Communist movement, which, in its origins, its development, and its present practice, is a world-wide revolutionary movement whose purpose it is, by treachery, deceit, infiltration into other groups (governmental and otherwise), espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and any other means deemed necessary, to establish a Communist totalitarian dictatorship in the countries through the medium of a world-wide Communist organization. . . .

(15) The Communist movement in the United States is an organization numbering thousands of adherents, rigidly and ruthlessly disciplined. Awaiting and seeking to advance a moment when the United States may be so far extended by foreign engagements, so far divided in counsel, or so far in industrial or financial straits, that overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence may seem possible of achievement, it seeks converts far and wide by an extensive system of schooling and indoctrination.

Sec. 8 (a) Any individual who is or becomes a member of any [communist] organization. . . . [shall] register with the Attorney General as a member of such organization.

The Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 993, (the Subversive Activities Control Act or the McCarran Act)

Reading 4

We do not want to see the conflict in Korea extended. We are trying to prevent a world war—not to start one. . . . But you may ask why can’t we take other steps to punish the aggressor. Why don’t we bomb Manchuria and China itself? Why don’t we assist Chinese Nationalist troops to land on the mainland of China? If we were to do these things we would be running a very grave risk of starting a general war. . . . If we were to do these things, we would become entangled in a vast conflict on the continent of Asia and our task would become immeasurably more difficult all over the world.

I believe that we must try to limit the war to Korea for these vital reasons: To make sure that the precious lives of our fighting men are not wasted, to see that the security of our country and the free world is not needlessly jeopardized and to prevent a third world war. A number of events have made it evident that General MacArthur did not agree with that policy. I have, therefore, considered it essential to relieve General MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.

The Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 993, (the Subversive Activities Control Act or the McCarran Act)

Reading 5

Sec. 2 The Congress hereby finds and declares that the Communist Party of the United States, although purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States. It constitutes an authoritarian dictatorship within a republic, demanding for itself the rights and privileges accorded to political parties, but denying to all others the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Unlike political parties, which evolve their policies and programs through public means, by the reconciliation of a wide variety of individual views, and submit those policies and programs to the electorate at large for approval or disapproval, the policies and programs of the Communist Party are secretly prescribed for it by the foreign leaders of the world Communist movement. . . . Therefore the Communist Party should be outlawed.

The Communist Control Act (68 Stat. 775, 50 U.S.C. 841-844) isigned by President Dwight Eisenhower on August 24, 1954

Reading 6

Six years ago this summer America stood at what Churchill described as the “highest pinnacle of her power and fame” . . . What do we find in the summer of 1951? The writs of Moscow run to lands which, with its own, number upward of 900 millions of people--a good 40 percent of all men living. . . .

During all this time the administration preaches a gospel of fear and [Secretaries of State] Acheson and Marshall expound a foreign policy in the East based upon craven, whimpering appeasement. . . .

How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this Government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men . . . What can be made of this unbroken series of decisions and acts contributing to the strategy of defeat? They cannot be attributed to incompetence.

Speech delivered by Senator Joseph McCarthy before the Senate on June 14, 1951

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why were many post-war Americans concerned about the domestic threat posed by communism? Was fear of communism a response to legitimate threats to national security or an irrational response to other tensions within American society?
  2. Were the federal government loyalty programs intelligent and constitutional methods of preserving American values?
  3. Can the government legitimately require employees to take loyalty oaths?
  4. What, if anything, can society do about people who hold opinions that the majority finds abhorrent?

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