24
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-24-2008: Communist Control Act

Congress passes Communist Control Act

Congress passes the Communist Control Act in response to the growing anticommunist hysteria in the United States. Though full of ominous language, many found the purpose of the act unclear.

In 1954, the Red Scare still raged in the United States. Although Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most famous of the “red hunters” in America, had been disgraced earlier in the summer of 1954 when he tried to prove that communists were in the U.S. Army, most Americans still believed that communists were at work in their country. Responding to this fear, Congress passed the Communist Control Act in August 1954. The act declared that, “The Communist Party of the United States, though purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States.” The act went on to charge that the party’s “role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear and continuing danger to the security of the United States.” The conclusion seemed inescapable: “The Communist Party should be outlawed.” Indeed, that is what many people at the time believed the Communist Control Act accomplished.

A careful reading of the act, however, indicates that the reality was a bit fuzzier. In 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act. In many respects, it was merely a version of the Communist Control Act passed four years later. It used the same language to condemn communism and the Communist Party of the United States, and established penalties for anyone belonging to a group calling for the violent overthrow of the American government. However, it very specifically noted that mere membership in the Communist Party, or affiliated organizations, was not in and of itself sufficient cause for arrest or penalty. The 1954 act went one step further by removing the “rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States” from the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act made it clear that “nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950.” Thus, while the Communist Control Act may have declared that the Communist Party should be outlawed, the act itself did not take this decisive step.

In the years to come, the Communist Party of the United States continued to exist, although the U.S. government used legislation such as the Communist Control Act to harass Communist Party members. More ominously, the government also used such acts to investigate and harass numerous other organizations that were deemed to have communist “leanings.” These included the American Civil Liberties Union, labor unions, and the NAACP. By the mid-to-late 1960s, however, the Red Scare had run its course and a more liberal Supreme Court began to chip away at the immense tangle of anticommunist legislation that had been passed during the 1940s and 1950s. Today, the Communist Party of the United States continues to exist and regularly runs candidates for local, state, and national elections.

“Congress passes Communist Control Act.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Aug 2008, 01:15 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2769.

 

0079 – Mount Vesuvius erupted killing approximately 20,000 people. The cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum were buried in volcanic ash.

0410 – The Visigoths overran Rome. This event symbolized the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

1456 – The printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed.

1572 – The Catholics began their slaughter of the French Protestants in Paris. The killings claimed about 70,000 people.

1814 – Washington, DC, was invaded by British forces that set fire to the White House and Capitol.

1867 – Johns Hopkins died. The railroad millionaire left $7.5 million in his will for the founding of a new medical school in his name.

1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the U.S. non-stop. The trip from Los Angeles, CA to Newark, NJ, took about 19 hours.

1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) went into effect. The agreement was that an attack against on one of the parties would be considered “an attack against them all.”

1959 – Three days after Hawaiian statehood, Hiram L. Fong was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U.S. senator while Daniel K. Inouye was sworn in as the first Japanese-American U.S. representative.

1968 – France became the 5th thermonuclear power when they exploded a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.

1970 – A bomb went off at the University of Wisconsin’s Army Math Research Center in Madison, WI. The bomb that killed Robert Fassnacht was set by anti-war extremists.

1981 – Mark David Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for the murder of John Lennon.

1989 – The U.S. space probe, Voyager 2, sent back photographs of Neptune.

1992 – Hurricane Andrew hit southern Florida causing 55 deaths in the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana.

1998 – A donation of 24 beads was made, from three parties, to the Indian Museum of North America at the Crazy Horse Memorial. The beads are said to be those that were used in 1626 to buy Manhattan from the Indians.

 

Elusive Mount of the Holy Cross photographed

William Henry Jackson becomes the first person to photograph Colorado’s elusive Mount of the Holy Cross, providing reliable proof of its existence.

Rumors had abounded for years that a natural cross of snow lay hidden high in the rugged mountains of Colorado. Many claimed to have seen the cross, but others were unable to find it. In August 1873, the photographer William Henry Jackson set out to prove its existence by taking a picture of it. Jackson was an experienced wilderness photographer who had accompanied wagon trains to California in 1866 and was employed as expedition photographer on Ferdinand Hayden’s survey of the Yellowstone region in 1871. Published in popular mass-circulation magazines like Harper’s Weekly, his images became immensely popular and showed Americans a rugged western wilderness that most would never see firsthand.

Jackson had heard rumors of the extraordinary cross of snow that occasionally appeared on the face of a high mountain peak. Jackson led a small party to the supposed site in north central Colorado in the summer of 1873. Jackson found the cross, though there was nothing miraculous about its cause. After thousands of years of erosion, two deep ravines had formed in the steep rocky face of a mountain peak. Intersecting at a 90-degree angle, the ravines sheltered the winter snow from the sun well after the rest of the mountain snow had melted away. For a brief time, a nearly perfect cross of snow appeared on the rock face, though it often melted away later in the summer.

In the pre-dawn hours of this day in 1873, Jackson prepared the heavy camera equipment he had carried up the mountain opposite the cross. He took his photos of the cross just as the first rays of the sun angled low across the crevassed face, emphasizing the lines of the cross. The best of the resulting photos became one of Jackson’s most popular and famous images, and it ended any further doubts about the existence of the Mount of the Holy Cross.

“Elusive Mount of the Holy Cross photographed.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Aug 2008, 01:11 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4621.

B-52s conduct heavy raids along the DMZ

U.S. B-52s carry out heavy bombing raids along the DMZ. In the United States, a radical protest group calling themselves the New Year’s Gang blew up in the Army Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin Army Mathematics Research Center in Madison. A graduate student who was working late was killed in the blast. The center, which reportedly was involved in war research, had been a focus for protest in the past, but previously protests had all been nonviolent.

“B-52s conduct heavy raids along the DMZ.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Aug 2008, 01:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1303.

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