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COMMUNIST METHODS OF INFILTRATION (EDUCATION)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1953
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
The Committee on Un-American Activities met, pursuant to notice, at 10:35 a. m., in the caucus room, Old House Office Building, Hon. Harold H. Velde (chairman) presiding.
Committee members present: Representatives Harold H. Velde (chairman), Bernard W. Kearney, Donald L. Jackson, Kit Clardy, Gordon H. Scherer, Francis E. Walter, Morgan M. Moulder, Clyde Doyle, and James B. Frazier, Jr.
Staff members present: Frank S. Tavenner, Jr., committee counsel; Thomas W. Beale, Sr., chief clerk; Louis J. Russell, chief investigator; Raphael I. Nixon, director of research; Donald T. Appell and Earl L. Fuoss, investigators.
Mr. VELDE. The committee will come to order.
Let the record show that all of the committee members are present and a quorum of the full committee is present for the purposes of this hearing.
Mr. Counsel, do you have a witness?
Mr. TAVENNER. I don't see the witness present. Mr. Robert Gorham Davis.
(Discussion off the record.)
In the testimony you are to give before this committee do you solemnly swear you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. DAVIS. I do.
Mr. VELDE. Mr. Davis, it is our understanding that you are a member of the teaching profession. In opening this hearing, it is well to make clear to you and others just what the nature of this investigation is.
From time to time, the committee has investigated Communists and Communist activities within the entertainment, newspaper, and labor fields, and also within the professions and the Government. In no instance has the work of the committee taken on the character of an investigation of entertainment organizations, newspapers, labor unions, the professions, or the Government, as such, and it is not now the purpose of this committee to investigate education or educational institutions, as such. The committee will follow its long-established policy of investigating Communists and Communist activities wherever it has substantial evidence of its existence.
When investigating Communists and Communist activities within certain labor unions, the committee was met with the charge by alarmists and partisans within that field that the committee was a group of Fascists and the enemy of labor, and that the real purpose of the investigation was to destroy labor unions. Similar and equally unfounded charges have been made with regard to this hearing. In pursuing its work within the field of labor, the committee carefully refrained from taking any part in any internal disputes within labor or any disputes between employers and employees and confined its activities to the ascertainment and identification of leaders in the labor unions who were members of the Communist Party and were using their influence to promote the objectives of the Communist Party within the field of labor, and to the character, extent, and objects of their Communist Party activities. The work of the committee in this respect has met with such growing success that many labor unions are now actively engaged in eliminating from positions of influence union officials known to be members of the Communist Party and engaged in Communist activities.
The purpose of the committee in investigating Communists and Communist activities within the field of education is no greater and no less than its purpose in investigating Communists and Communist activities within the field of labor or any other field.
The committee is charged by the Congress with the responsibility of investigating the extent, character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the United States, the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American propaganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic origin and attacks the principle of the form of government as guaranteed by our Constitution and all other questions in relation thereto that would aid Congress in any necessary remedial legislation.
It has been fully established in testimony before congressional committees and before the courts of our land that the Communist Party of the United States is part of an international conspiracy which is being used as a tool or weapon by a foreign power to promote its own foreign policy and which has for its object the overthrow of the governments of all non-Communist countries, resorting to the use of force and violence, if necessary. This organization cannot live except by the promulgation and diffusion of subversive and un-American propaganda and in the view of this committee every person who remains a member of it is contributing to the ultimate accomplishment of its objectives. Communism and Communist activities cannot be investigated in a vacuum. The investigation must, of necessity, relate to individuals and, therefore, this morning the committee is calling you as a person known by this committee to have been at one time a member of the Communist Party.
The question is sometimes asked whether it is necessary to call as witnesses those who are no longer members of the Communist Party. It is quite obvious for a number of reasons that the answer should be “Yes.” Such witnesses add immeasurably to the sum total of the knowledge of the character, extent, and objects of Communist activities. The testimony of former Communist Party members resulted virtually in immobilizing the Communist Party in Hollywood. These witnesses considered it their patriotic duty to answer under oath questions relating to their knowledge of Communist infiltration into the organizations of which they had been members, and to their knowledge of other Communist Party activities. Witnesses from the Screen Writers' Guild, the directors' guilds, labor unions, the legal profession, the medical profession, and other groups have made a great contribution to the defense of their country by disclosing to this committee facts within their knowledge.
Former Communist Party membership, in the view of the committee, should not be held against an individual whose testimony admitting former Communist Party membership has that character of trustworthiness which convinces one that he has completely and finally terminated his Communist Party membership and has been given in all good faith. It is of great aid in determining who remain in the Communist Party to ascertain who have left it.
The committee was greatly concerned with the evidence developed in the Hollywood hearings with respect to the type of “thought control” practiced by the Communist Party upon its members. Screen writers were told how and what they should write. The testimony of Budd Schulberg and Edward Dmytryk demonstrate the point as clearly as laboratory experiments would prove a chemical reaction. The same influence was found to exist in the field of art and music. An objective study of this testimony will lead to the inescapable conclusion that it is the Communist Party which is the enemy of academic freedom.
The committee is equally concerned with the opportunities that the Communist Party has to wield its influence upon members of the teaching profession and students through Communists who are members of the teaching profession. Therefore, the objective of this investigation is to ascertain the character, extent and objects of Communist Party activities when such activities are carried on by members of the teaching profession who are subject to the directives and discipline of the Communist Party.
Proceed, Mr. Tavenner.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT GORHAM DAVIS
Mr. TAVENNER. Mr. Davis, will you state your full name, please?
Mr. FRAZIER. I want to ask Mr. Davis whether or not he wants to be represented by counsel. I think we should ask him or whether he had counsel.
Mr. VELDE. All right. Ascertain that, Mr. Counsel.
Mr. TAVEN NER. Do you have counsel present with you in the hearing room?
Mr. Davis. No; I do not.
Mr. TAVENNER. It is the practice of the committee to encourage the use of counsel by witnesses if they desire. So I would like to ask you if you desire counsel present?
Mr. Davis. No; I do not.
Mr. TAVENNER. Will you state to the committee, please, what your educational training has been?
Mr. Davis. I was educated in the public schools of Cambridge; went to Harvard as a scholarship student in the class of '29; received my master's degree in 1930; returned to Harvard for further graduate work in 1933.
Mr. TAVENNER. How long did you remain at Harvard in 1933, when you went there in 1933?
Mr. Davis. I taught 10 years until 1943.
Mr. TAVENNER. I want to ask you at this stage whether you object to the cameras, the photographs that are being taken, and I believe the movies which are being taken?
Mr. Davis. No; I do not.
Mr. TAVENNER. Will you state, please, what your employment has been since the completion of your education!
Mr. Davis. I taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1930 to 1933; was an assistant at Harvard from 1933 to 1934; an instructor from 1934 to 1940; a faculty instructor from 1940 to 1943. I went to Smith as a visiting lecturer and was made an associate professor in 1945 and full professor in 1952.
Mr. TAVENNER. Professor Davis, are you now a member of the Communist Party?
Mr. Davis. I am not.
Mr. TAVENNER. Will you tell the committee, please, the circumstances under which you became a member; how long you remained a member; and the circumstances under which you left the party!
Mr. Davis. I joined the Communist Party in January of 1937. I left the Communist Party in the fall of 1939, after the pact between the Germans and the Russians.
Mr. TAVENNER. Since 1939 have you consistently been an opponent of the Communist Party?
Mr. Davis. I have.
Mr. TAVENNER. Now will you state more in detail the circumstances under which you became a member of the party?
Mr. Davis. Do you wish to know the influences that led me to join?
Mr. TAVENNER. Yes. I think we should have the entire picture for the benefit that it may be to others.
Mr. Davis. Well, I should say that ideologically there were three elements: First, the fact of the depression. To my generation it seemed intolerable that men should be unemployed; that food and cotton should be destroyed while people were hungry in a country as advanced technologically as the United States, and with such tremendous natural resources. We sought to understand the reason for the depression, for the waste of human and natural resources, and were led because of the spirit of the thirties to concern ourselves with the Marxist explanation.
One reason why Marxism appealed to my generation is because we were products of the twenties, educationally-a period of uncertainty and skepticism. Marxism seemed to offer a positive solution-an