Death of I.F. Stone, ‘Conscience of Investigative Journalism’


The Times deserves special commendation for the excellent news story (Part I, June 19) and editorial (“Journalist of Integrity,” June 20) in regard to the passing of Stone.

One additional item in his illustrious career that deserves notice: Izzy deserves credit for launching the successful campaign to abolish the old House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

In mid-May, 1957, when most civil libertarians were devoting their energies on this issue by just defending the “victims” of HUAC (those subpoenaed to appear before this ongoing national witch hunt), it was Stone who correctly sensed that the time was ripe for its abolition. Based on a little noticed U.S. Supreme Court decision (Watkins vs. U.S.) at that time, where Chief Justice Earl Warren pointedly asked, “Who can define the meaning of Un-American activities?”, the Weekly devoted an issue on the HUAC question and Izzy was on the phone to friends all over the nation, including the writer, insisting that not another day be lost.


He was most persuasive. Response was immediate: Alexander Meiklejohn, Corliss Lamont, Carey McWilliams, Aubrey Williams, Clarence Pickett, Harvey O’Connor and many more took up the call --through petitions, editorials, and grass-roots organizing, the campaign to end congressional inquisitions started. Hollywood 10’s Dalton Trumbo joined Princeton’s Prof. H.H. Wilson to pack Carnegie Hall for a kick-off rally sponsored by the then-Emergency Civil Liberties Committee; to be followed thereafter by the creation of the National Committee to Abolish HUAC.

While it took 18 more years to do the monster in, in 1975, the ultimate victory over the committee and for the First Amendment, properly goes to I.F. Stone.


Executive Director

National Committee to Abolish HUAC

Los Angeles