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Expanded Timeline: Events of the Loyalty Oath Controversy and Historical Background

 

Introduction

1940-1948

1949
January-February
March-April
May-June
July-August
September-October
November-December

1950
January-February
March-April
May-June
July-August
September-October
November-December

1951-1956

 

1940-1948


1940

The Regents establish an anti-communist policy for the University of California.


1945

World War II is coming to an end. At the Yalta Conference Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin agree on how the post-war world should be organized. As the Soviet Union starts to violate some of the agreements, particularly in regard to the establishment of new governments in Eastern Europe, the "Cold War" will begin.

April 25-June 25
Delegates from many nations gather in San Francisco and the United Nations is founded (there is some sentiment that the new headquarters of the organization could be in San Francisco or even in Berkeley, but New York is ultimately chosen).

July 16
The United States explodes the first test atomic bomb at Alamogordo New Mexico. The civilian side of the development of atomic weapons has occurred under the management of the University of California, drawing heavily on the faculty, researchers, and expertise of the "Radiation Laboratory" at Berkeley. Berkeley Physics Professor Robert Oppenheimer is in charge of the civilian researchers headquartered in New Mexico at Los Alamos, which will continue, after the War, as a UC-managed weapons and energy research and development laboratory.

August 6
The United States drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Japan surrenders on August 15, bringing World War II to an end.

In China, as Japanese occupation collapses, civil war resumes between Nationalist and Communist factions. Yugoslavia becomes a one-party communist state under Tito.

 

1946

Civil war in Greece, continuing through 1949. Communist-backed Greek forces operate out of Yugoslavia. Civil war continues in China.

March 5
Winston Churchill delivers his famous "Iron Curtain" speech at Westminster College in Missouri, warning about Soviet expansion.

 

1947

March 12
American President Harry Truman establishes the "Truman Doctrine" stating as policy worldwide American opposition to communism. The policy is coupled with Congressional action to send military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece, where civil wars are underway.

George Kennan, writing under a pseudonym in Foreign Affairs, promulgates the goal of "containment" of the Soviet Union, which becomes a cornerstone of American foreign policy.

President Truman initiates loyalty oaths for Federal employees, and the use of such oaths spreads rapidly through public and private agencies. Many Americans, fearful of the spread of communism, start or support what are later called "witch hunts" for suspected communists in American society.

The Marshall Plan is instituted, providing massive American economic and military aid to western Europe to rebuild war damaged countries and strengthen anti-communist governments.

Civil war continues in Greece, but American and British aid, including military advisers, starts to erode the advance of communist forces. The Chinese Communists make military gains against the Nationalists. In Hungary, a short-lived democratic government ends as Soviet occupation forces install a one-party communist government.

The Central Intelligence Agency is created in the United States.

 

1948

Chinese Communists make decisive gains, defeating American-supported Nationalist forces.

President Truman is re-elected in a four-way race against Republican Thomas Dewey, Progressive Henry Wallace, and conservative southern "Dixiecrat" Strom Thurmond. American diplomat Alger Hiss is accused of having been a communist spy in the 1930s. Over the next two years this becomes one of the high profile cases of the American anti-communist movement.

The democratic Czechoslovakian government is overthrown by a Soviet-backed communist coup. Popular Czech democratic Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk dies from a fall from a window; it is widely believed he was murdered.

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors makes the following statement (published in 1949 in the AAUP's Bulletin). ". . .So long as the Communist Party in the United States is a legal party, affiliation with that party in and of itself should not be regarded as a justifiable reason for exclusion from the academic profession." This statement is later cited by opponents of UC's loyalty oath.

 

 

Compiled by Steve Finacom

 

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Last updated 12/15/03.