Chronology of the Federal
August 2, 1939: Section 9-A of the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from “membership in any political party or organization which advocates the overthrow of our constitutional form of government.”
October 25, 1939: Dies Committee releases a list of 500 federal employees allegedly associated with the American League for Peace and Democracy, alleged to be a “Communist front” organization.
June 29, 1940: The Alien Registration (Smith) Act criminalizes advocacy of, or belonging to, an organization that advocates overthrow of the government.
1940: Smith Committee hearings and report on the National Labor Relations Board stress its employment of alleged Communists.
September 7, 1941: Dies Committee alleges that at least 50 Office of Price Administration employees (Dies names 5), including some top officials, have “links to Reds.” Civil Service Commission establishes a three-member loyalty board (Cannon, Klein, Smith).
October 20, 1941: Dies charges that 1,124 federal employees (not including those in OPA and other new defense agencies) are Communist Party members or sympathizers. Dies does not make the list public, but he claims that about a quarter of the list are high-ranking officials. Attorney General Francis Biddle authorizes the FBI to investigate those on the list.
September 24, 1942: In response to the attorney general’s report that investigating those named by Dies had been largely unnecessary (many of the 1,124 had left government, the allegations against most others were unsubstantiated, and 2 were dismissed), Dies names 19 federal officials alleged to have ties to Communist groups.
February 2, 1943: Dies denounces 38 federal employees as “crackpot and radical bureaucrats” with subversive associations. Many of them work for OPA or the Federal Communications Commission. The House authorizes the Kerr Committee to hold hearings; it recommends dismissal of 3 employees, clears 3 others, and never gets to the rest.
February 5, 1943: FDR creates an Interdepartmental Committee on Em-