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Martin Dies

(b. 1900)


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(b. Colorado, Texas, 5 Nov. 1900; d. Lufkin, Texas, 14 Nov. 1972)

US; Member of the US House of Representatives 1930–44, Congressman-at-large for Texas 1952–9 Dies was the son of a Congressman and was educated at Wesley College, Greenville, the University of Texas, the Hickman School of Speech and Expression in Washington, DC, and National University.

Dies was elected to the House in 1930. Although he was initially a supporter of the New Deal, he became more critical of F. D. Roosevelt's liberal initiatives, especially the regulation of the coal industry, minimum wage legislation, and measures supportive of organized labour.

Increasingly obsessed with the threat of Communist subversion, in 1938 Dies persuaded the House to set up a committee to investigate un-American activities under his chairmanship. Known from 1938 to 1945 as the Dies Committee, this committee (the House Committee on Un-American Activities or HUAC) became the primary instrument for probing Communist (and, to a lesser extent, Fascist) influence in the United States.

The committee's activities (which included inquiries into the Congress of Industrial Organizations and various New Deal agencies) gained Dies temporary national fame. But his attempt to exploit it failed miserably. He lost a Senate bid in 1941 and his cause proved difficult to promote in the midst of a war fought in alliance with the USSR. Dies retired from Congress in 1944 but returned to the House as Congressman-at-large for Texas in 1952. However, by then others had taken up the anti-Communist crusade and Dies was not reappointed to HUAC. He continued to promote anti-Communist legislative measures and to oppose liberal initiatives, especially in the field of civil rights. In 1957 he made a final attempt to enter the Senate but again failed.

In retirement Dies continued to lecture and publish extensively, mainly on the theme of anti-Communism.

Subjects: Politics.


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