Thomas, J. Parnell

New Jersey Republican congressman, Chaired House on Un-American Activities Committee 1947-49, cited “Hollywood Ten” for contempt of Congress

Price: $25.00

Description:
(1895-1970) New Jersey US Rep 1937-50, Chairman (1947-49) of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), later jailed for corruption. Following 1919 discharge from the military, he worked in the investment securities and insurance business in New York for 18 years. He entered New Jersey municipal politics in 1925, was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1935, and in 1936 was elected to Congress as a Republican. A staunch conservative, he opposed Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, claiming the President's legislative agenda "sabotaged the capitalist system." Thomas opposed government support for the Federal Theatre Project declaring that "practically every play presented under the auspices of the Project is sheer propaganda for Communism or the New Deal." In 1949 he called Secretary of Defense James Forrestal "the most dangerous man in America" and claimed that if Forrestal was not removed from office, he would "cause another world war." After the GOP gained control of the 80th Congress, he was named Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). In May 1947, Thomas went to Hollywood to meet film industry executives hoping to exposing what he believed was Communist infiltration of motion picture content by members of the Screen Writers Guild. Returning to Washington, he shifted the Committee’s focus to what he called the "subversives" working in the film business. Under Thomas, in October 1947, HUAC summoned suspected Communists to appear for questioning. The summonses led to the conviction and imprisonment for contempt of Congress of the "Hollywood Ten" who refused to answer the Committee's questions, citing the First Amendment. Columnists Jack Anderson and Drew Pearson were critical of Thomas and his Committee's methods. Thomas’ secretary sent documents to Pearson which he used to expose Thomas' corruption in an August 4, 1948 newspaper article. Thomas was summoned to answer to charges of salary fraud before a grand jury, and, ironically, refused to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment rights. He was indicted, tried and convicted of fraud, fined and given an 18-month prison sentence. He resigned from Congress January 2, 1950. In another twist, he was sent to Danbury Prison where Lester Cole and Ring Lardner, Jr., members of the "Hollywood Ten", were serving time because of his inquiries into the film industry. After his release, he edited and published 3 weekly newspapers in Bergen County, New Jersey. President Truman pardoned him on Christmas Eve 1952. In 1954, Thomas was defeated for the GOP nomination for Congress. Signed 3 x 5 card, name typed below signature, undatd but early-mid 1940s.

Condition: Very good, light uniform toning
Type:Signed Card






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