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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

The U.S. Congress Special Committee on Communist Activities in Washington State Hearings (1930)

Two decades before the more notorious Congressional hearings on “un-American activities” led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, U.S. Representative Hamilton Fish organized a special Congressional committee to investigate Communism in states and cities across the nation. In October 1930, the Fish committee held hearings in Seattle. The called sixteen witnesses including representatives of the Seattle police department, King County prosecutor, and employers and timber industry officials who claimed that Communists were a threat to public safety in Washington state. In addition, the committee subpoened five members or suspected members of the Communist Party.

The testimony of each is linked below. These are pdf copies taken from the published hearings: United States. Congress House Special Committee on Communist Activities in the United States, “Investigation of communist propaganda. Hearings ... pursuant to H. Res. 220, providing for an investigation of communist propaganda in the United States. Part 5, volume no. 1, Seattle, WA, October 3, 1930, Portland, OR October 4, 1930”

List of witnesses

Lewis Forbes, Chief of Police Seattle

Ewing D. Colvin, prosecuting attorney, King County

Lloyd E. Thorpe, editor Pacific Pulp and Paper Industry, trade journal

Ralph Shaffer, Shaffer Box Co, Tacoma

Mrs. W.H. Dubois, Daughters of the American Revolution, Spokane

W.B. Greeley, secretary-manager West Coast Lumberman’s Association

Angus D. Chisholm, district manager, Puget Sound territory, Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumberman

F. Lesley Phelps, editor Pacific Coast Mechanic

John Speed Smith, district director of naturalization, Department of Labor

George David Hanrahan, member Communist Party

Leo Scott, staff Daily Worker

Leon Glaser, supporter Communist Party

Ralph M Roberg, manager Puget Sound Pulp and Timber Company

Joseph Fields, member Communist Party

John Laurie, member Communist Party

Sowell E. Jennings, detective, Seattle police deparment