McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks
For twenty years after World War II, the United States was in the grips of its second and most oppressive red scare. The hysteria was driven by conflating American Communists with the real Soviet threat. The anticommunist movement was named after Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, but its true dominant personality was FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who promoted and implemented its repressive policies and laws. The national fear over communism generated such anxiety that Communist Party members and many left-wing Americans lost the laws’ protections. Thousands lost their jobs, careers, and reputations in the hysteria, though they had committed no crime and were not disloyal to the United States. Among those individuals who experienced more of anticommunism’s varied repressive measures than anyone else was Clinton Jencks.
Jencks, a decorated war hero, adopted as his own the Mexican American fight for equal rights in New Mexico’s mining industry. In 1950 he led a local of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers in the famed Empire Zinc strike—memorialized in the blacklisted 1954 film Salt of the Earth—in which wives and mothers replaced strikers on the picket line after an injunction barred the miners themselves. But three years after the strike, Jencks was arrested and charged with falsely denying that he was a Communist and was sentenced to five years in prison. In Jencks v. United States (1957), the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in a landmark decision that mandated providing to an accused person previously hidden witness statements, thereby making cross-examination truly effective.
In McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks, Caballero reveals for the first time that the FBI and the prosecution knew all along that Clinton Jencks was innocent. Jencks’s case typified the era, exposing the injustice that many suffered at the hands of McCarthyism. The tale of Jencks’s quest for justice provides a fresh glimpse into the McCarthy era’s oppression, which irrevocably damaged the lives, careers, and reputations of thousands of Americans.
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Clinton Jencks and Local 890 19471950
Empire Zinc Strike
Salt of the Earth
United States v Clinton E Jencks
Questionable Witnesses and the Motion for New Trial
The Court of Appeals
The Supreme Court
FBI Files and the Reverend J W Ford 15 FBI Files and Harvey Marshall Matusow
Clinton Jencks after the Trial 17 Some Observations
The Jencks Trial Personalities
Other editions - View all
Activities affidavit agent Albuquerque American anti-Communist appeared asked attorney August became Biberman Board bureau called charges Clinton Jencks committee Communist Party Congress continued Daily Press December decision defense denied Department Empire evidence executive false February federal File Folder Ford given Grant County hearing Hollywood Hoover House individuals Internal interview issue January January 11 Jencks Jencks Papers Jencks’s joined judge June jury Justice labor later lawyers Local Lorence March Matusow McTernan meeting membership Mexican Mexico Mine-Mill months motion names noted October organization Party member Paso pickets president produce prosecution prosecutor question record refused Relations reports resignation Salt Security Senate September signed Silver City statements strike Supreme Court testified testimony Texas Thomason told took trial union United University of Colorado Virginia vote Washington witness Witt women workers wrote York