The source of each document is provided below. Brief explanations of the documents, and some suggestions for possible discussion questions, accompany the citations. The documents are divided into four units, but teachers may reorganize them as they see fit.
A. The Canwell Committee
Document 1. Excerpt from Albert F. Canwell: An Oral History (Olympia: State of Washington, 1997), 121. Used, with changes, by permission of the Washington State Oral History Program. ©1997 by the Washington State Oral History Program.
Canwell recalls the Seattle Police Department raiding the local Communist Party headquarters in the late 1930s. Canwell, who described himself as a "one-man FBI," spent much of the 1930s infiltrating communist groups for the police and for large employers such as Boeing and Washington Water Power. Indeed, Canwell was working for the Spokane police when he was elected to the state legislature in 1946.
What did the police hope to accomplish with this raid? How was this kind of persecution of communists different from the anti-communism of the late 1940s and 1950s?
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.
This bill created the Canwell Committee. Canwell adroitly presented his proposal in the form of a concurrent resolution since such resolutions could not be vetoed by the governor, nor repealed by the citizens through the referendum process. This precaution was probably unnecessary because anti-communism was very popular at this time, as indicated by the wide margin by which Canwell's resolution passed.
Why did Canwell believe that communists posed such a threat to Washington state? What powers did the legislature grant to the Canwell Committee?
Document 3. Members of the Canwell Committee examine evidence. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, no negative number (filed under A. L. Canwell, 1/15/48).
Document 4. The State Patrol ejects E. L. Pettus, vice president of the Washington Pension Union. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, no negative number (filed under E. L. Pettus, 3/26/48).
Document 5. Interview with James Sullivan. Albert Canwell, First Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State. ([Olympia]: Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities,1948), 61-69.
James Sullivan, the first president of the Washington Pension Union (WPU), offered fairly convincing proof that many of the leaders of the WPU were communists. Sullivan's testimony demonstrated that not all of the accusations made to the Canwell Committee were hearsay. However, note that Sullivan's responses did not show that the WPU was interested in overthrowing the U.S. government. Instead, he described how the communist and non-communist members of the Pension Union cooperated to pass Initiative 141, which granted more generous social security checks to Washington's senior citizens.
Document 6. Interview with Howard Costigan. Albert Canwell, First Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State. ([Olympia]: Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities,1948), 359-67.
During the late 1930s and early 1940s popular radio announcer Howard Costigan was the "voice of the Roosevelt wing of the Democratic Party in Washington state." Between 1936 and 1939, Costigan also served as the president of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, a Communist Party "front." In this selection, Costigan explains his reasons for joining and then exiting the Party. Costigan was so embittered by his experiences in the Party that he became militantly anti-communist. In 1944 and 1946 he challenged communist Hugh DeLacy for the Democratic Party nomination for Seattle's U.S. House seat; Costigan narrowly lost both times. Costigan's relationship to the Canwell Committee was complex: the Committee paid Costigan to testify as an "expert witness," but the testimony of several witnesses who named Costigan as an ex-communist cost him his job as radio broadcaster. Costigan thus hated the Canwell Committee almost as much as the Communist Party.
What were the political goals of the Communist Party in the late 1930s? Why did Costigan come to detest the Communist Party? What is Costigan's opinion about the fairness of the Canwell Committee's hearings?
Document 7. Interview with H. C. Armstrong. First Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State. ([Olympia]: Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, 1948), 415-39.
H. C. "Army" Armstrong was a six-term state legislator when he testified before the Canwell Committee. He had initially been elected with the assistance of the CP. Disgusted with the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Armstrong left the Party in 1940. Here, he describes the working of the communist "cell" in the Washington state legislature in the late 1930s.
How much power did the Communist Party really have in Washington State?
Document 8. Testimony of J. B. Matthews. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 34-90.
J. B. Matthews was one of the many professional anti-communist witnesses hired by the Canwell Committee. Matthews worked as research director for HUAC from 1938 to 1945. Like most professional anti-communist witnesses, Matthews used selective and limited evidence to make sweeping generalizations about the goals and tactics of the CP. Matthews's testimony was rather unusual, however, since he made explicit what other witnesses merely assumed: "guilt by association" was a valid method of judging communists and "fellow travelers." Matthews made it clear that he believed anyone who cooperated with communists should be publicly branded a "fellow traveler."
What evidence does Matthews present to prove his contention that Albert Einstein was a subversive? Why does Matthews believe that communism and "free societies" cannot co-exist? What evidence does Matthews present that communists have "poisoned" the minds of American children?
Document 9. Testimony of Professor Sophus K. Winther, English Dept., University of Washington. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 18-26.
University of Washington English Professor Sophus Winther was the only professor to "name names" at the Canwell hearings. Pressured by Canwell investigators, Winther believed that he would lose his job if he did not testify against his fellow professors. Winther's testimony also provided the best look at the actual activities of local communist groups.
Compare Winther's testimony to Matthews's [document 8]. What did communist professors actually do, according to Winther? Does Winther's testimony support or undermine Matthews's depiction of the Communist Party as a ruthlessly efficient propaganda machine?
Document 10. Testimony of Professor Garland Ethel, English Dept., University of Washington. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 130-44.
Garland Ethel was a colleague of Winther's in the UW English Department. Ethel's refusal to name other members of the Communist Party set a courageous precedent, which other professors followed when they took the stand.
Why did Ethel refuse to "name names"? Why did members of the audience clap when Ethel finished testifying?
Document 11. Protesters Outside the Canwell Hearings. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, negative P121683.
Anti-Canwell protesters march outside the Washington State Armory, where the Canwell hearings were held.
Document 12. Testimony of Professor Joseph Butterworth, English Dept., University of Washington. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 233-36.
English Professor Joseph Butterworth was a member of the Communist Party when he came before the Committee. Rightfully frightened of losing his job, he refused to answer the Committee's questions. This did not save Butterworth: the UW fired him six months later.
Why did Canwell refuse to allow Butterworth or his lawyer to speak freely? Why might Butterworth have been reluctant to testify?
Document 13. Testimony of Isabel H. Costigan. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 120-24.
Isabel Costigan cooperated with the Canwell Committee to a much greater extent than her husband, Howard Costigan. Isabel and Howard had separated some time before the hearings and divorced the following year. Isabel spoke to the Committee at both sets of hearings. During the February hearings, she said she had never attended a communist meeting with Ralph Gundlach. In this selection from the July hearings, she said that she had. In addition, notice how investigator William Houston puts words in Isabel Costigan's mouth.
Document 14. Testimony of Mrs. Sarah Eldredge. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 207-17.
Sarah Eldredge worked in the Communist Party from 1937 to 1939. She was also vice chair of the King County Democratic Party during this period. Eldredge willingly assisted the Canwell Committee during both sets of hearings, although her testimony was not always entirely coherent.
How credible is Eldredge's testimony?
Document 15. Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 248-89.
George Hewitt quit the Communist Party in 1944 and soon discovered that being an anti-communist witness paid far better than being a communist union organizer. Despite Hewitt's tendency to contradict himself on the stand, his accusations seriously besmirched the reputations of Melvin Rader, Ralph Gundlach, and Florence James. One year after speaking to the Canwell Committee, Hewitt experienced several psychotic episodes and was hospitalized. Melvin Rader's struggle to clear his name is explored further in document 24.
How credible is Hewitt's testimony? Why might paid anti-communist witnesses be untrustworthy?
Document 16. George Hewitt testifies before the Canwell Committee. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, negative P121665.
Document 17. Florence James calls George Hewitt a "liar." Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, no negative number (filed under Mrs. Burton James, 1948).
Florence James, co-director of the Seattle Repertory Theater, leaps to her feet and calls witness George Hewitt a "liar" and a "perjurer." Hewitt claimed that he had met Florence James in Moscow. He also said the communist leaders in Moscow considered James to be a "spearhead of cultural infiltration."
Document 18. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 July 1948 and 8 August 1948.
Most newspapers in Washington state took the same position as the P-I enunciated in "Are they Ashamed?" "Communist Espionage" explains the Hearst newspaper chain's long-time campaign against communism.
Document 19. Canwell Probe One-Color Presentation of Red Case. Seattle Times, 22 July 1948.
UW English Professor Joseph Harrison consistently spoke out in favor of civil liberties during the Red Scare. He strongly protested the dismissal of his colleague, Professor Joseph Butterworth. Harrison was also active in the later campaigns to invalidate Washington's loyalty oaths. (See document #42.)
Why does Harrison think the Canwell hearings "violate the spirit of fair play"? Why would this editorial appear in the Seattle Times but not the Seattle Post-Intelligencer?
Document 20. Some of the Pinks are Asking for It. Snohomish County Tribune, 21 July 1948.
Document 21. Mr. and Mrs. James Tell Why They Refused to Answer. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 27 July 1948.
Florence and Burton James's explanation of their refusal to answer the Committee's questions did not revive the Seattle Repertory Theater's fortunes. Ticket sales continued to decline sharply despite the Jameses' insistence that their theater did not do the bidding of the CP.
Why did Florence and Burton James refuse to answer questions about their political beliefs?
Document 22. The Broadcast that the Radio Stations Said Was "Too Hot!" Pension Builder, February 1948, Washington Pension Union Papers, University of Washington Manuscripts and Archives, Accession 185-1.
Pennock's denunciation of Canwell was credible to most of the members of the WPU. The Pension Union thus survived the Canwell hearings with only minor damage.
Why does Pennock say that people should not believe the testimony given at the Canwell hearings? Why did many people trust Pennock more than Canwell?
Document 23. Cartoons from UE News, 7 August 1952 and 14 March 1950.
UE News was the official publication of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, one of the largest unions in the nation in the 1950s. This union was one of the few to openly defy the McCarthyist crusade against communists in the American labor movement.
What images do the cartoonists use to criticize anti-communist investigations? Are these images effective?
Document 24. Melvin Rader, False Witness (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969).
Rader's efforts to repudiate Hewitt's accusations discredited the work of the Canwell Committee in the minds of many Washingtonians. The publication of Seattle Times reporter Ed Guthman's Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles in mid-1949 helped ensure that the Washington legislature did not renew the Canwell Committee.
Why does Rader claim that the "false witness" was "a symbol of the age"? Why did Canwell try to thwart Rader's attempt to clear his name? How did his experiences with the Canwell Committee affect Rader?
B. The University of Washington Tenure Hearings
Document 25. Jane Sanders, Cold War on the Campus: Academic Freedom at the University of Washington, 1946-64 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), vi-vii.
Sanders offers an excellent, succinct definition of academic freedom.
Document 26. Communism and Academic Freedom (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1949), 23-26.
Compare the Tenure Committee's rules to the Canwell Committee's. Which were more fair? Why?
Document 27. University of Washington Faculty Senate, Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee, Hearings, vol. 1, pp. 41-45 and vol. 32, pp. 3908-11, University of Washington Manuscripts and Archives, Accession 70-30.
This document excerpts UW lawyer Tracy Griffin's opening and closing arguments to the tenure committee.
Why does Griffin contend that communist professors should be fired? How does Griffin interpret the UW Tenure Code?
Document 28. Ralph Gundlach's statement to the Tenure Committee, 16 September 1948. Ralph H. Gundlach Papers, UW Manuscripts and Archives, Accession 686-70-21, folder 1/11.
Professor Gundlach's arguments here clearly display his training in psychology.
What does Gundlach mean by saying that he has been a victim of "stereotyped thinking"? Why does Gundlach think that the UW administration is trying to fire him?
Document 29. University of Washington Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee, Hearings, vol. 16, pp. 1616-44.
Professor Everett Nelson was the chair of the UW Philosophy Department and thus Herbert Phillips's supervisor. Most of the six accused professors' defense rested on testimony similar to this. Nelson and other witnesses made a strong case that the professors' were good teachers who did not try to "convert" students to communism.
How effective is this testimony in proving Phillips's "fitness" to teach? Why did Nelson tell Phillips not to reveal his political affiliations?
Document 30. Closing Statements. University of Washington Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee, Hearings, vol. 32, pp. 3801-83.
Attorney John Caughlan defended Professors Phillips and Butterworth, while attorney Ed Henry represented Professors Eby and Jacobs. This document excerpts their closing arguments.
Compare this document to Griffin's position in document #27. Whose arguments are more convincing—the UW lawyers' or the defense lawyers'? Why? How do the defense attorneys interpret the UW Tenure Code?
Document 31. Report of the Tenure Committee and Recommendations of UW President Raymond Allen, Communism and Academic Freedom, 29-54, 85-109.
Teachers may wish to divide students into small groups to analyze this complex document. Each group could explain and evaluate the logic of each of the five arguments presented here.
Document 32. Communists have a right to teach in American Universities. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, no negative number (filed under University of Washington-Communist Hearing, 2/16/49).
Philosophy Professor Herbert Phillips addresses the University of Washington Regents, arguing that communists have a right to teach in American Universities. Phillips's speech did him little good: the Regents voted unanimously to fire Phillips and two other professors Just minutes after this photo was taken.
Document 33. Dave Beck on Communists in the Labor Movement. Washington Teamster, 28 January 1949.
Dave Beck began his career as a laundry delivery driver in Seattle, but he quickly rose to become one of the most powerful figures in the American labor movement. After winning the presidency of his Teamsters' local in the early 1920s, Beck proceeded to organize tens of thousands of workers in dozens of industries across the West Coast. Beck offered employers an attractive bargain: if they would recognize the Teamsters, he would help put their non-union competitors out of business and fend off more radical unions. Beck, a conservative Democrat, was a major player in Washington state politics from the late 1920s until the late 1950s, when he was convicted of income tax evasion and accused of loaning money to the mafia.
Why was Beck so hostile toward communists in the labor movement?
Document 34. New York Times, 30 January 1949.
Most American newspapers were even more fervent in their praise of the UW Regents' actions than the New York Times.
How did the UW's dismissal of the three professors "set a precedent"? Why might the UW firings be an important event in American history?
Document 35. Eleanor Roosevelt, "My Day," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 24 January 1949.
Even most liberals failed to defend the dismissed UW faculty.
Document 36. An open letter. University of Washington Daily, 7 April 1949.
Over 100 UW faculty signed this eloquent letter protesting the dismissals and probations.
Why did these professors claim that firing communist professors would weaken the US in its struggle with the Soviet Union?
Document 37. Letters from fired professor to his wife. Ralph H. Gundlach Papers, University of Washington Archives, folder 1/13.
This document is excerpts from two letters that Ralph wrote to his wife, Bonnie Bird Gundlach, a few days after he had been fired. Bonnie, a dancer, was working with her ballet troupe in New York City when the Regents made their decision.
Document 38. Psychology Professor Ralph Gundlach goes to court. Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, no negative number (filed under Ralph Gundlach, 3/23/49).
The University of Washington Regents had fired Gundlach two months before this photo was taken. He then faced prosecution for his refusal to answer the questions of the Canwell Committee. The jury found Gundlach guilty of contempt of the legislature. He was fined $100 and sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Document 39. Jane Sanders, Cold War on the Campus: Academic Freedom at the University of Washington (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), 96-97.
How did the UW's actions affect the six professors?
C. Other Events in Washington State's Red Scare
Document 40. Laws of the State of Washington, 1951, pp. 793-803 and 1955, pp. 1545-46.
Legal challenges from civil libertarians blocked the enforcement of both these laws. Nonetheless, the laws illustrate how far legislators were willing to go in the fight against communism during the McCarthy era.
What were the legal penalties for someone convicted of being a member of the Communist Party or another "subversive organization"? Do these laws violate the First Amendment or not?
Document 41. Garland O. Ethel loyalty oath. UW Manuscripts and Archives, Garland O. Ethel Papers, folder 11/4.
Document 42. Jane Sanders, Cold War on the Campus: Academic Freedom at the University of Washington (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), 168-71.
Why did UW professors oppose the loyalty oaths? When and why did the Red Scare end?
Document 43. Initiative 172, Voters' pamphlet for the General Election held Tuesday, November 2, 1948. (Copy from the Washington Pension Union papers, UW Manuscripts and Archives, accession 185-1, folder 7/5.)
What did this measure do? Is it a good idea for the state government to pay for health care for people on public assistance?
Document 44. Initiative 172 petitions. University of Washington Libraries, Manuscripts and University Archives Division (Washington Pension Union papers, accession 185-1, folder 7/4).
Members of the Washington Pension Union (WPU) present signed petitions for initiative 172 at the State Capitol. Despite Canwell's investigation of their organization, the WPU convinced 58% of Washington voters to support Initiative 172, which appeared on the November 1948 ballot. Initiative 172 increased Social Security payments to Washingtonians over 65 years of age and required Washington State to provide free health care to impoverished Washingtonians. Over the next two years, public support for the WPU declined — partly because anti-communist politicians continued to attack the WPU and partly because the WPU took the unpopular position of opposing U.S. involvement in the Korean War. In November 1950, Washington voters repealed Initiative 172. In the early 1950's, the federal government jailed several WPU leaders because they were communists.
How did the Red Scare affect Washington state politics?
Document 45. Cartoon from UE News, 12 December 1953.
What is the cartoonist's message?
D. Cold War Economy/Cold War Places
Document 46. The 1945 population figures are from Calvin Schmid, Population Trends: Towns and Cities of Washington State: April 1, 1940 to February 1, 1945 (Seattle: Washington State Census Board, 1946). All other information is from Calvin Schmid and Stanton Schmid, Growth of Cities and Towns: State of Washington (Olympia: Washington State Planning and Community Affairs Agency, 1971), 3-4, 58-63.
Why did some cities grow much faster than others? What is the relationship between defense spending and population growth?
Document 47. Richard S. Kirkendall, "The Boeing Company and the Military-Metropolitan-Industrial Complex, 1945-1953," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 85 (October 1994), 137-49.
Why did Washington state benefit from defense spending more than other regions of the country? How was Boeing able to build the 707? Why is Boeing important to Washington's history?
Document 48. Boeing employment statistics. Compiled from Eve Dumovich, The Boeing Logbook, 1916-1991 (Seattle: Boeing Historical Archives, 1991), with commentary written by Michael Reese.
How did changes in America's foreign policy affect Washington's economy?
Document 49. Excerpt from NIPSIC to NIMITZ. Louise M. Reh and Helen Lou Ross, NIPSIC to NIMITZ: A Centennial History of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (Bremerton: Bremerton Printing Company, 1991).
How did the Cold War affect the Kitsap Peninsula?
Document 50. John Findlay, "The Off-center Seattle Center: Downtown Seattle and the 1962 World's Fair," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 80 (January 1989), 2-8.
Why did the designers of the Century 21 Exposition choose to create a space-themed fair? What was the Space Needle supposed to represent?
Document 51. Michele Gerber, Legend and Legacy: Fifty Years of Defense Production at the Hanford Site (Richland, WA: US Department of Energy Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management, 1992).
How did the Second World War and the Cold War transform southeastern Washington? Why is Hanford an important part of American history? What were the benefits and costs of producing plutonium at Hanford?
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