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A Postal Worker Testifies Before the Loyalty-Security Program

Executive Order 9835, signed by President Truman on March 21, 1947, established a loyalty-security program for the executive branch of the federal government. Federal employees were required to take a political test to identify "subversive" affiliations or tendencies. Past or present members of the Communist Party as well as anyone with a "sympathetic association" with it or any other "subversive" organizations or individuals were disqualified or dismissed. These terms were often deliberately vague; the charges against this postal worker included owning "Communist literature and art." The employee was dismissed from his job, and his appeals to the Civil Service Commission resulted in rulings upholding the dismissal. The FBI's often secretive handling of the program's investigations (despite the Executive Order's relegating of that duty to the Civil Service Commission) ensured that successful appeals of this kind were nearly impossible.

In late February 1954, the employee was working in a clerical capacity as a substitute postal employee. He performed no supervisory duties. His tasks were routine in nature. One year prior to the initiation of proceedings, the employee had resigned from his position as an executive officer of a local union whose parent union had been expelled from the CIO in 1949 as Communist dominated. . . .

[The employee immediately answered the first set of charges against him only to be suspended without pay at the end of March on the following charges.]

3. In January 1948, your name appeared on a general mailing list of the Spanish Refugee Appeal of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee . . .

5. Your wife was a member of the Club of the Young Communist League [a Communist party youth organization from the 1920s to the 1940s]

6. In 1950, Communist literature was observed in the bookshelves and Communist art was seen on the walls of your residence in -------

. . . Before the employee testified, he submitted a nine-page autobiography to the Hearing Board [that] set forth in some detail the employee’s activities as an officer of his local union, and discussed particularly his role therein as an anti-Communist, and his opposition to the pro-Communist policies of the National Organization with which his local was affiliated. . . .

With respect to the third charge against the employee . . . the employee reiterated his denial of any knowledge concerning it, and . . . testified further that he had no recollection of ever having received any mail from the organization involved. . . .

With respect to charge No. 5 . . . He testified that he had no independent recollection that his wife was ever a member of said organization. In addition, the employee testified that he had never lived in the neighborhood in which the organization was alleged to have existed, and that he had never heard of said organization. . .

The Chairman then read charge No. 6 in which it was alleged that Communist literature was observed in the employee’s bookshelves at home and Communist art was seen on the walls of his residence in 1950 . . .Counsel for the employee then questioned him concerning his courses in college, and the books which he was there required to read for those courses. . . .The employee responded that certain books had been recommended by his instructors, that Das Kapital was one, and that he had bought the Modern Library Giant Edition of Das Kapital . . . the employee testified that he had not read Das Kapital in its entirety, that he had been required to read ‘a chapter or two for class work,’ and that ‘he had found it a little dull and tedious.” . . .

Counsel then asked the employee whether, in 1950, he had reproductions of paintings by great painters hanging on the walls of his home, and following the employee’s answer in the affirmative, counsel asked him to name some of the artists whose reproductions were hanging on the walls of the employee’s home. The employee named Picasso, Renoir, and Modigliani.

Counsel then asked the employee whether pictures by those artists were hanging in museums, including in the largest museum in the city in which the employee resides, and following the employee’s answer in the affirmative, counsel asked whether there was ‘any relationship between the art and the Communist Party.’ The employee responded that he had ‘no idea of what any relationship there might be that exists there at all.’ . . .

 

Source | Adam Yarmolinsky, ed., Case Studies in Personnel Security, (Washington, DC: Bureau of National Affairs, 1955), in Ellen Schrecker, ed., McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents (New York: Bedford/St.Martin's, 2002), 178-182.
Creator | Bureau of National Affairs
Item Type | Government Document
Cite This document | Bureau of National Affairs, “A Postal Worker Testifies Before the Loyalty-Security Program,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed July 18, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/811.

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