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  1. McCarthyism and the Crucible

  2. McCarthyism and the Red Scare • An overzealous, anti-communist witch hunt • During and after WWII, many people were afraid that communism would take over the US, but McCarthyism took it to the extreme. • Many people were falsely accused • Most of the people who were questioned were asked to name names, which caused many more false accusations • Named after Senator Joseph McCarthy because he made a speech saying he had a list in his hand of US government officials who had turned communist

  3. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) • Questioned accused communists and searched for names of others suspected • Started in 1937 • While numerous industries were investigated by HUAC, because of Hollywood's high profile, it became the best known target of this infamous committee.

  4. In 1947 the committee’s purpose was threefold: • Prove that the Screen Writer’s Guild had Communist Members • Show that Hollywood writers were able to insert subversive propaganda into Hollywood Films • J. Parnell Thomas, head of the committee, argued that President Roosevelt had encouraged Pro-Soviet films during the Cold War.

  5. Some Americans Accused of Being Communists • Presidents Roosevelt and Truman • Critics of McCarthyism • Musicians, film stars, and Hollywood writers, artists and painters • Ronald and Nancy Reagan • Feminists and women’s movement leaders • Atomic Scientists • The Girls Scouts • College students and social activists • Union leaders • Democrats

  6. Some Americans Accused of Being Communists • Was particularly difficult for Hollywood writers and entertainers such as: • Lillian Hellman • Lena Horne • Paul Robeson • Aaron Copeland • Leonard Bernstein • Charlie Chaplin • Arthur Miller • “It is only to be expected that Communists would strive desperately to gain entry into the motion picture industry simply because the industry offers such a tremendous weapon for education and propaganda” ~J. Parnell Thomas (

  7. “The Hollywood Ten” • Herbert Biberman • Lester Cole • Albert Maltz • Adrian Scott • Samuel Ornitz • Dalton Trumbo • Edward Dmytryk • Ring Lardner Jr. • John Howard Lawson • Alvah Bessie • Accused men could 1) deny involvement, 2) confess to their prior membership and be forced to name other members, or 3) claim the 5th Amendment

  8. Hollywood’s Involvement • Many people in Hollywood, including writers, actors, directors, and producers were blacklisted because others named them as communists. • In 1947, about thirty famous people in Hollywood went on a chartered plane to protest HUAC hearings. • One famous actress on the chartered plane was Marsha Hunt, who was in the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. • She said, “I was told that … the only way I might be able to work in films again would be to denounce the flight as a serious error that had been masterminded by Communists. I knew quite to the contrary, and of course I couldn’t say or swear to such nonsense” ( • Hunt had few films after that, however, her career in Hollywood ended completely after she was blacklisted Some artists’ passports were taken away, and some were jailed for not naming names • 320 artists were blacklisted, in all, and for many of them, it ruined their careers (

  9. What about Arthur Miller?? • Three years after Miller wrote “The Crucible” he was subpoenaed to testify before the HUAC • In his book, Timebands, Miller wrote that “they offered to cancel the hearings in EXCHANGE for Marilyn Monroe being photographed shaking hands with the HUAC chair.” • Miller NIXED the photo session

  10. February 19, 1957 • Arthur Miller in called in front of a Federal Grand Jury on charges of contempt of Congress. • Miller refuses to name names in front of the HUAC while testifying that he had never been a Communist. (However he acknowledged his involvement in the past with a number of Communist-front groups) • Miller further testifies that he was present at five or six meetings of Communist authors in New York in 1947.

  11. The 2 questions he was charged with unlawfully refusing to answer were: "Can you tell us who was there when you walked into the room?" "Was Arnaud d'Usseau chairman of this meeting of Communist party writers which took place in 1947 at which you were in attendance?"

  12. Miller told the committee… • “[I will] not support now a cause dominated by Communists….” • “My conscience will not permit me to use the name of another person and bring trouble to him." • “I speak my own sins…. I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it.”

  13. Results… • Miller’s refusal resulted in a conviction from the judge who found his motives “commendable” but his action legally indefensible • August 8, 1958 Miller is cleared of contempt by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia • The nine-man court unanimously decided that Miller had not been sufficiently warned of his contempt upon his refusal to name names

  14. Quotes from Miller in “Why I Wrote ‘The Crucible’” • “…to imagine writing a play about [all] this environment was like trying to pick one’s teeth with a ball of wool…. I lacked the tools… Yet I kept being drawn to it….” • (I read about witchcraft trials in college), but not untill I read a book published in 1967-- a two-volume, thousand page study by C.Upham, who was then the mayor of Salem. It was then that I knew I had to write about the period. ….”The Crucible” took me a year to write.

  15. Final Quotes from the Author… • “… The unknowable is always around the corner. We know how much depends on mere trust and good faith… and how easily breached these are….” • “And we know as well… how weak we really are and how quickly swept by fear the mass of us can become when our panic button is pushed.” • “The play reaffirms the ultimate power of courage and clarity of mind, whose ultimate fruit is liberty.”