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EUGENE D. MILLIKIN, CO )., CHAIRMAN
EDW1RDp MARTIN, PA. WALTER F GEORGE, GA.
JONJ HI~AMS, DEL. HARRY FLOD BYRD, VA.
RALPH E. FLANDERS, VT. EDWIN C. JOHNSON, COLO.
GEORGE W. MALONE, NEV. ROBERT 5. KERR, OKLA.
FRANK CARLSON, KANS. J. ALLEN FREAIR, R., DEL
wauLACE F. BENNETT, UTAH RUSSELL B. LONG, LA. Crte aes rae
SAM W. REYNOLDS. NEBR. OEORGE A. SMATHERS, Fl.A
COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
October 25, 1954
Miss Zara Neale Hurston
Dear Miss Hfurston:
Thank you very much for your recent commuication regarding
the Senator McCarthy censure matter which is to come before the Senate.
A study of the record will reveal my long and consistent
opposition to commuism. In 1947 and 1968 when it was not popular
to oppose communism, I did so, pointing out at that time the
dangers of Commuists to the United States, not only from outside
our shores but from within our boundaries as well. As a member
of the Congress in 19417 I advocated the outlawing of the Communist
Party in public speeches made around the State and elsewhere. Since
then I have in some instances co-sponsored and in other instances
helped enact most of the present laws now being used to combat
communism, i.e., the McCarran-Walter Act, the Mundt-Nixn Act,
the~ Subve~rsive Activities Control Bill and the more recently enacted
bill to outlaw the Communist Party, of which I was a co-sponsor.
I make this statement only that you will clearly understand my
unyielding opposition to communism in any form.
The question of censuring Senator McCawrthy was not and
is not being dealt with in relationship to his fight on commuism.
The whole point in the~ censure question is whether or not Senator
M/cCarthy has conducted himself and his ~Committee in keeping
with the rules and precedents of the United States Senate. In
that connection, I have explained in some defsj 1in a recent letter
to General Sumter Lowry my views on this rltt.- Because of the
large numer of letters which I am ree i2 on this question
I am taking the liberty of enclosing 0 ~fy of my letter to him. I
hope you vill take the time to rea /it
core others, U.S.S.
~UNI~TED) STATES SENATE
October 8, 195~4
General Sumter Lowry
3622 Hender son Bouleva rd
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of October 6 regarding my
statement that I would vote to support the recommendations of the Watkina
Committee. As you can well appreciate from our long association, I dislike
finding myself in disagreement with you, However, in this particular instance
such seems to be the case.
At the time that Senator Flanders offered his Resolution to censure
Senator McCarthy, I was one of those who felt definitely that the Senate had no
business voting on such a Resolution in a hurried and emotional atmosphere
without full knowledge of all the facts and without giving Senator McCarthy an
opportunity of answering the specific charges against him. In my judgement,
for us to have voted at that time on the Resolution would have been, on the
part of the Senate, a most injudicious act and would have been in violation of
our fine American principle that no man should be found guilty without first
'having an opportunity of being heard and presenting his case. For that reason,
I voted to refer the matter to an impartial Committee, which in an atmosphere
-of objectivity could examine the charge against Senator McCarthy; listen to
and aift the evidence supporting those charges; and give Senator MaicCarthy an
opportunity to present his case to be heard fully.
After this was done, the Comzmittee? was instructed to make a finding as
to the facts and a recommendation to the Senate. This procedure, decided
upon by a majority of the Senate, seemed to, me to be the most judicial and the
only wayr in which we could proceed without emotionalism and in protection of
the rights of Senator McCarthy..
A Committee was selected L three Republicans and three Democrats -
from the most judicially experienced Senators available. One of the members
is a former Supreme Court Judge of his state; two others have had long
judicial experience on the Bench of their states; two other have served as
governors of their respective states; the sixth man has had long experience as
Attorney General of his state and is recognized as one of the ablest lawyers in
These men sat is a judicial atmosphere and manner. They sifted the
charges against Senator McCarthy, reduced them to five and thereafter listened:
to testimony in support of those charges for a period lasting over several weeks,
Senator McCarthy was present at most of the hearings and was represented by
able counsel at every one of the hearings. He was given the opportunity to
present fully and completely his side of the case, as wett as the right to cross-
examine all of the witnesses and the facts submitted against him. T~he proce-.
dure was objective and judicial, as required by the precedentsf-orf~the seqate
when a member of the Setlate is under investigation.
After all of the testimony was in, the Committee in a quiet, non-political
manner considered the evidence and found Senator McCarthy guilty on two of
the five counts and recommended that the Senate do censure him therefore.
Now, it is my belief that in the absence of a showing of some violent
impropriety or wrong-doing on the part of the Commnittee (which from reading
the report and the testimony is clear does not exist) I should support the Com-
mittee in its action.
If the Watkins Committee had found Senator McCarthy not guilty and had
recommended exoneration, I should have felt obligated to support its findings,
for the Committee was acting as an arm of the Senate, performing a function
specifically delegated to it by the Senate; to wit, to hold hearings, eift evidence
and recommend to the Senate whether or not Senator McCarthy should or should
not be censured,
If the members of the Senate felt at the time they created this Committee
that they were doing it only to take the pressure off themselves temporarily
and that it was merely a stop-gap to temporarily ease the pressure and that a
gigantic trial would subsequently be held by the full Senate, where all charges
and evidence would again be presented and again be argued then, in my
opinion, we did a useless and wasteful act in ever' appointing the Watkine
Committee in the first place. However, that was not the thought which resulted
in the establishment of the Watkina Committee.
The Senate customarily acts through committees, and in most all instances
of highly technical complicated problems the fult Senate fottows the recommended
action of its committee specifically established to examine the facts in the con-
troversy and to make recommendations, Of course, it is always the right of
any individual Senator to disagree with the committee findings and vote against
the committee recommendations.
As a matter of fact, a Senator has a duty to vote against a committee
finding where he is convinced that improper procedure was fottowed, or in-
dividual rights have been violated. However, in this instance judicial authorities
as wett as parlia mentary authorities are unanimous in their opinion that. the
Watkins Committee conducted its hearings and~ procedures in a judicial and-
proper manner and in keeping with the highest traditions and dignity of the
United States Senate.
After reading the Committee report, its findings and recommendations,
and thereafter reviewing the Committee procedure, I am convinced that the
Committee has done a through, objective, impartial and judicial job and
therefore 1 shalt support it.
I am confident that most of the Se~nators will feel the same way about this
as I do, wrhen they have had time to read the Committee report and study its
re commenda tions. These are my conclusions about the matter and I regret
that they do not coincide with yours; however, as in the past, I trust that we
shall continue to recognize each of our rights to our own opinions, and that
our long friendship will not suffer astla result of this one difference.
With warm personal regards, I am
George Smathers, U.S.S.