Document 2: Bill Creating the Canwell Committee

"House Concurrent Resolution, No. 10" from Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, First Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), v-vii and Washington State Legislature, Journal of the House: 30th Session
(Olympia, 1947), 572-73.

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Read first time February 26, 1947, ordered printed and referred to Committee

on Military and Naval Affairs.

Providing for investigation of subversive activities.

Be It Resolved By the House of Representatives, the Senate Concurring,

of the State of Washington in Legislative Session Assembled:


WHEREAS, These are times of public danger; subversive persons and groups are endangering our domestic unity, so as to leave us unprepared to meet aggression, and under cover of the protection afforded by the bill of rights these persons and groups seek to destroy our liberties and our freedom by force, threats and sabotage, and to subject us to the domination of foreign powers; and

WHEREAS, Recent announcements by responsible officers of the federal government indicate the seriousness of the problem. J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, recently said: "During the past five years American Communists have made their deepest inroads upon our national life. Their propaganda, skillfully designed and adroitly executed has been projected into practically every phase of our national life. The Communist influence has projected itself into some newspapers, books, radio and the screen, some churches, schools, colleges and even fraternal orders have been penetrated, not with the approval of the rank and file, but in spite of them"; and

WHEREAS, State legislation to meet the problem and to assist law enforcement officers can best be based on a thorough and impartial investigation by a competent and active legislative committee;

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, That there is hereby created a Joint Legislative Fact-finding Committee on Un-American Activities in the State of Washington which shall investigate, ascertain, collate and appraise all facts concerning individuals, groups or organizations whose activities are such as to indicate a purpose to foment internal strife, discord and dissension; infiltrate and undermine the stability of our American institutions; confuse and mislead the people; and impede the normal progress of our state and nation either in a war time or a peace time economy; and

Be It Further Resolved, That in addition to other duties imposed upon the committee, the committee shall investigate the activities of groups and organizations whose membership includes persons who are communists, or any other organization known or suspected to be dominated or controlled by a foreign power, which activities affect the conduct of this state, the functioning of any state agency, unemployment relief and other forms of public assistance, educational institutions of this state supported in whole or in part by state funds, or any political program; and . . .

Be It Further Resolved, That the committee hereby created. . . shall have . . . all powers necessary or convenient to accomplish the objects and purposes of this resolution, including but not limited to the following duties and powers: . . .

(5) To hold public hearings at any place in the State of Washington at which hearings the people are to have an opportunity to present their view to the committee; . . .

(7) To meet at any and all places in this state, in public or executive session; . . .

(10) To summon and subpoena witnesses, require the production of papers, books, accounts, reports, documents, and records of every kind and description; to issue subpoenas and to take all necessary means to compel the attendance of witnesses and procure testimony; to pay fees and traveling expenses of witnesses to insure their attendance, if necessary; to procure from any court having jurisdiction, upon complaint showing probable cause believe that pertinent evidence is being concealed or withheld from the committee, a search warrant and cause a search to be made therefor;

(11) To . . . direct the sheriff of any county to serve subpoenas, orders, and other process issued by the committee; and

(12) To do any and all other things necessary or convenient to enable it fully and adequately to exercise its powers, perform its duties, and accomplish the objects and purposes of this resolution. In case of disobedience on the part of any witness to comply with any subpoena issued by the committee or on the refusal of any person to testify regarding any matter on which he may be lawfully interrogated, the superior court of any county, or the judge thereof, on application of the committee, shall compel compliance by proceedings for contempt, as in the case of disobedience of the requirements of a subpoena issued from such court or a refusal to testify therein; and . . .

Be It Further Resolved, That the Washington state patrol and all others and members thereof shall furnish such assistance to the committee as the chairman may direct . . . .

On motion of Mr. Woodall, . . . House Concurrent Resolution No. 10 [was considered].

Extended debate ensued. . . . The Clerk called the roll on the final passage of House Concurrent Resolution No. 10, and the resolution passed the House by the following vote: Yeas, 86; nays, 8; absent or not voting, 5. . . .

House Concurrent Resolution No. 10, having received the constitutional majority, was declared passed.


By Representative Archie Baker, on House Concurrent Resolution No. 10:

"I voted for this fact-finding committee because I believe that foreign agents who want to overthrow our government should be exposed. This committee should work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It should not infringe on the constitutional rights of individuals who belong to liberal and progressive organizations."

By Representative Chet King, on House Concurrent Resolution No. 10:

"I voted 'No' on House Concurrent Resolution No. 10 for the reason that I believe as a Union man, and not being a Communist, that this bill is designed to harass labor unions."

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest