‘Red scare;’ one man’s ‘unamerican activities’
FOR VETERAN VOICE
Editor’s note: Darlene Richardson is an historian for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She contributes regularly to Veteran Voice.
Political events in Europe that led to World War I fueled fear and suspicion in America about communism and came to be known as the “Red Scare.” As Communism spread in Russia and, later, Hitler and his Nazi regime rose to power in Germany, fear of communists, communism, totalitarianism, and anarchists in general, led Congress to create the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1938 to uncover Nazi ties in the U.S. This gave rise to another “Red Scare” as the U.S. entered World War II. Roughly 14 months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9300 and established a committee to examine the loyalty of federal employees and identify “subversive activities” against the government. As of Sept. 30, 1945, 67 cases were considered by the committee, resulting in termination of 24 federal employees.
President Truman took it one step further with Executive Order 9835, signed on March 21, 1947, by authorizing executive branch agencies to investigate applicants and employees to determine their loyalty and set standards for doing so.
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