1974 June 4

“The List” is Ended: President Nixon Abolishes the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations


President Richard Nixon on this day abolished the notorious Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations, which was a major instrument in the attack on freedom of belief and association during the Cold War. The list was ordered by President Harry Truman as part of his federal Loyalty Program on March 21, 1947, and first published on December 4, 1947. During the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War, individuals lost their jobs or were denied employment because they belonged to, or once belonged to, an organization on the list.

The list had a devastating influence, inspiring similar lists, including Red Channels, a privately sponsored list published on June 22, 1950, which also became the basis for blacklisting in the radio, television and motion picture industries. The Attorney General’s list also inspired the House Un-American Activities Committee’s “Guide to Subversive Organizations,” first published on May 14, 1951.

Nixon’s Executive Order (in part): “SEC. 1.2. Executive Order No. 9835 of March 21, 1947, as amended, is hereby revoked.

SEC. 2. Neither the Attorney General, nor the Subversive Activities Control Board, nor any other agency shall designate organizations pursuant to section 12 of Executive Order No. 10450, as amended, nor circulate nor publish a list of organizations previously so designated. The list of organizations previously designated is hereby abolished and shall not be used for any purpose.”

Read President Nixon’s Executive Order: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.ph18

Learn more about the list: Robert Justin Goldstein, American Blacklist: The Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations (2008)

Learn more about President Nixon and civil liberties: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

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