Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Letters to the Editor

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Patrick J. McGeever's review of my book, Harry, Tom and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America's Cold War in your April 2006 issue (pp. 298-299) misrepresents how I present a key element of the book. Noting that my uncle, Harry Davenport, went into a steep decline after losing his Congressional seat in 1950, McGeever comments that the book fails to "shed some light on why he [Davenport] betrayed his friends or walked away from his family. The nephew, despite spending much time in bars with his subject, was too embarrassed to ask."

McGeever is referring to my conversations with Harry mostly in the late 1960s, often in bars but also at holiday dinners in my home (p. 4). It is true that at first I was "reluctant" to ask him what had gone wrong during his one term in Congress (1949-50). As I say on page 4,"How do you ask a man, what caused you to fall apart?" But I could not have asked him about the first act of betrayal, his failure to speak up for his friend Tom Quinn when he was subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1949.1 learned about this incident only in 1999, by which time Harry had been dead for 22 years (p. 12).

A second betrayal of sorts occurred in April 1950 when Harry publicly denounced one of his principal supporters, the United Electrical Workers (UE), as a "puppet of Moscow" during the UE's battle with a rival union to represent Westinghouse Electric workers. Harry did tell me about this incident in response to a question, and I later essentially confirmed the story in my research for the book. Harry turned against the UE because David Lawrence, the Pittsburgh mayor and Democratic Party boss, made this a condition of continued party support. …

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