1924 July 7

Pacifists Denounce War Department Guilt-by-Association “Spider Web Chart”


The so-called “Spider Web Chart” was a graphic image purporting to show the links between pacifist, liberal, socialist, communist and other groups. It is a classic guilt-by-association device. Pacifist groups on this day protested both the chart and the fact that it was developed by the U.S. War Department.

Variations of the spider web chart (some times with an actual chart, but most of the time by simply listing a person’s associations) were often used by anti-communist and anti-radical crusaders in later years. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), established on May 26, 1938, relied very heavily on guilt-by-association in its thirty-seven year assault on freedom of belief and association.

Read Jo Freeman’s article on the history of the “Spider Web Chart”: http://www.jofreeman.com/polhistory/spiderweb.htm

Learn about the history of military spying on Americans:  Joan Jensen, Army Surveillance in America, 1775–1980 (1991)

Learn more about HUAC: http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

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