1931 March 16

Rep. Hamilton Fish Denounces ACLU For Defending “All Revolutionary Elements” in the U.S.


In a nationwide radio talk on this day, conservative Republican Congressman Hamilton Fish, III, denounced the ACLU as “an organization that upholds all revolutionary elements in this country.” He also called on Congress to pass a law denying Communists entry into the U.S. and allowing the deportation of foreign-born Communists already in the U.S.

In 1930-1931, Fish chaired a temporary House committee that investigated alleged subversive activities in the U.S. (see December 15, 1930), which served as a model for the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), established on May 26, 1938. At the 1931 hearings, Fish clashed with ACLU Director Roger Baldwin over whether the First Amendment protected the right to advocate the overthrow of the government.

Watch a speech by Rep. Fish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYJLP8LkKls

Learn more: Griffin Fariello, Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition: An Oral History (1995)

Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU

Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org

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