Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The United States Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations was a list drawn up on April 3, 1947[1] at the request of the United States Attorney General (and later Supreme Court justice) Tom C. Clark.[1] The list was intended to be a compilation of organizations seen as "subversive" by the United States government. Among those were: Communist fronts, the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party.[1]



The Attorney General's list was first known as the Biddle list after President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Attorney General Francis Biddle began tracking Soviet controlled subversive front organizations in 1941. The original list had only eleven organizations but was greatly expanded by the end of the decade to upwards of 90 organizations.[2] It did not list individuals.

Communist groups, which emerged both in the pre-war and the post-war list, are marked by one ". In the meantime, even some trade unions that excluded members of openly communist groups from their membership lists were dissolved, partially also by government resolution.

Thousands of Americans with progressive or radical political beliefs signed petitions for, or became members of, these groups without being aware of the Communist ties of the group. Many were later persecuted and suffered personal consequences during the McCarthy era. Some others, though, were found through HUAC investigations and Venona cable intercepts, to be actively involved in Soviet sponsored espionage and related activities.

Biddle list[edit]

Later history[edit]

The Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations (AGLOSO) was expanded by President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9835.[1] EO 9835 established the first Federal Employee Loyalty Program designed to root out Communist infiltration of the U.S. government. It allowed for organizations to be listed on the recommendation of certain members of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) members, as designated by committee Chairman J. Parnell Thomas. Those he named initially were John McDowell, a Pennsylvania Republican, Richard Vail, an Illinois Republican, and John Wood, a Georgia Democrat. They readied their first version of the list for Attorney General Tom C. Clark within a few days.[3] It appeared in the Federal Register on March 20, 1948.[4]

Executive Order 10450, issued by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in April 1953, expanded the Attorney General's List and added the proviso that members of the United States armed forces could not join or associate with any group on the list under threat of discharge from military service.[5]

List as of 1959[edit]


The list went through several revisions until President Richard M. Nixon abolished it in 1974.[6]


The list's impact was immediate but not all important. Its purpose was to provide a guide for the loyalty boards mandated by EO 9835. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began using it immediately, but it was only one of many lists they used. The HUAC maintained its own list. Membership in an organization on any such list was reported to the Justice Department and loyalty boards.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Prelude to McCarthyism: The Making of a Blacklist". Goldstein, Robert Justin, Prologue, U.S. National Archives. Retrieved November 2006.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies (New York: Crown Forum, 2007) ISBN 978-1-4000-8105-9, pp. 55-60, notes).
  3. ^ a b "Hoover and the Un-Americans". O'Reilly, Kenneth, Chapter 8:Counter Intelligence, University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved February 5, 2007. 
  4. ^ Attorney General's list, Federal Register 13, (20 March 1948) Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Defense Department Form 98, Revision 1 June 1959
  6. ^ Pear, Robert (1980-10-27). "Immigration Service Keeps List Of 'Proscribed' Groups in Nation; Basis for Listing Groups". New York Times. pp. A19. Retrieved 2007-02-05.