A Cold War Division Chair: Political Activism and Institutional Pressure

Linus Pauling, 1950

[Pauling as Administrator]

Even before becoming Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, Linus Pauling had been viewed by some of his colleagues, particularly his predecessor A.A. Noyes, as being inclined to delegate responsibilities. This tendency became more evident following the conclusion of World War II, as the push to promote biochemical research within the division moved forward. While Pauling continued to steer the division toward a future focused intently on biochemistry – advocating for and securing funds to support biochemical medical research – he also began to withdraw from other duties, shifting some of them to his colleagues.

A significant factor behind the need to delegate was Pauling’s increasing involvement in peace activism and, particularly, his schedule of public speaking related to the use and testing of nuclear weapons. These activities ultimately brought Pauling before Caltech’s Board of Trustees, who contemplated his dismissal.

In 1949 the board communicated to Caltech President Lee DuBridge that public statements being made by Pauling on issues of peace and nuclear weapons were “damaging” to Caltech’s reputation. In response, Pauling is said to have “pledged” to DuBridge that he would cut back on his political activism, since he did not want his political views to interfere with his scientific work. President Truman’s decision to develop a hydrogen bomb the next year changed Pauling’s mind however, and he was again brought to the attention of Caltech’s leadership. This time, Pauling told DuBridge that he wished to speak with the trustees directly.

Meanwhile, the board had formed a committee made up of five trustees and five faculty members who were asked to determine whether or not Pauling should be dismissed from Caltech. In a statement dated July 14, 1950, Pauling expressed shock at having learned of this unexpected action by the trustees. In particular, Pauling’s tenure rank and hugely successful twenty-eight year career at Caltech had not prepared him for such an extreme possibility.

Three days later, on July 17, Pauling was given the chance to speak to the board and repeated to the trustees what he had earlier told DuBridge: he wanted to cut back on his political activities. But this ambition was couched, with Pauling noting that

I still propose to do this, at a rate determined by the world situation; however, I remain unwilling to pledge myself to cease all political activities.

Regardless, Pauling made it clear that he did not want to harm Caltech and would do “anything compatible with my conscience and my principles” to protect its reputation.

Sidney Weinbaum

In actual fact, Pauling did not believe that he was harming Caltech’s reputation at all. Rather, after surveying several colleagues and students who told him that his activities had caused no “appreciable damage” to them, Pauling concluded that he was actually helping the institution’s standing.

President DuBridge harbored a decidedly different point of view, informing the board that “many staff members” had told him that Pauling’s actions had “damaged them greatly.” These sentiments focused in particular on Pauling’s support for Sidney Weinbaum, a Russian émigré who became a United States citizen in 1927 and completed his Ph.D. at Caltech in 1933.

Weinbaum, who was Pauling’s research assistant in 1929, had been charged with being a communist, and his case eventually drew the FBI to Caltech. This led to Weinbaum’s removal, as a possible security risk, from his position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1949. During his appeal, which was supported by Caltech, Weinbaum denied being a communist. The government subsequently dropped their previous allegations against Weinbaum in favor of new charges of perjury, for which he was arrested.

Pauling and Weinbaum were friends, so much so that the Paulings offered a room in their home to Weinbaum’s spouse following his arrest. Pauling also offered $2,000 for Weinbaum’s legal defense, and helped to raise more from other sources.

But DuBridge did not like the potential optics of the situation and suggested in particular that Pauling raise money by word of mouth, and not through the mail. An undated form letter authored by Pauling and five others, and appealing for money to support Weinbaum’s case, suggests that Pauling either ignored DuBridge’s advice or that DuBridge was trying to reel Pauling back in. Ultimately, Pauling’s efforts did not take, and Weinbaum was sentenced to four years in prison.

As the year moved forward, Pauling’s public persona continued to emerge as a source of concern for DuBridge and Caltech’s board. In October 1950, Pauling came under further scrutiny after being named by Senator Joseph McCarthy as a communist. McCarthy fanned the flames of this allegation by also defining Pauling as an atomic scientist who had received classified information from the Atomic Energy Commission as a result of his connections with the Guggenheim Foundation. The Senator was quick to add that the foundation was rumored to have “a flagrant record of giving fellowships to Communists.”

Responding internally, Pauling explained to Charles Newton, DuBridge’s assistant, that he was only on the Committee of Selection for the Guggenheim Foundation and could in no way be involved with the organization in the ways that McCarthy had suggested. Pauling added that McCarthy was likely targeting him for his peace work.

With interest in his politics hanging over his status at Caltech like a sword of Damocles, Pauling remained in the dark about any conclusions reached by the Board of Trustees’ select review committee, before which he had never been called to testify. Another twelve years would pass before DuBridge finally informed Pauling that the committee had recommended, in May 1952, that nothing be done to punish Pauling. Instead, the committee suggested that Pauling be continually pressed to end his political activities in order to forestall criticism of the Institute. And indeed, as time went on, the internal pressure on Pauling was increased.

Though Pauling’s political activism began to intrude more frequently on his daily responsibilities, he continued to take pride in heading Caltech’s chemistry division, which was racking up the successes. In 1950, Pauling reported to division staff that the Committee on Professional Training had given the chemistry program an overall grade of A, as well as A grades in physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and analytic chemistry, with a lone B issued for organic chemistry. Pauling delighted in boasting of these types of accomplishments, and also continued to actively work with incoming students.

One such student, Fernando L. Carraro of Brazil, first wrote to Pauling in 1950, expressing an interest in Pauling’s research on antibodies. Over subsequent exchanges, it became clear that Carraro wanted to study with him at Caltech. In response, Pauling suggested that Carraro apply to the Institute in 1953, and that he also seek funding from the Guggenheim Fellowship for Latin American students. In the meantime, Carraro wanted to know what he should study, to which Pauling offered the idea of mathematics.

In providing guidance related to the Guggenheim fellowship, Pauling further suggested that Carraro could focus on the structure of proteins, the application of quantum mechanics to molecular structure, or the analysis of gas molecules by electron diffraction during his stint in Pasadena. Pauling also warned Carraro that he would likely not be given a graduate assistantship since he had not attended an American university.

Carraro’s fellowship was ultimately approved and he studied under Pauling from 1954 to 1955. Though a small story in the grand scheme of Pauling’s life, his interactions with this student from Brazil serve as evidence that, despite everything else that was vying for his attention, he continued to set aside time for those wishing to learn.

The Oppenheimer Trial

Pauling's copy of the Oppenheimer hearing transcript.

Pauling’s copy of the Oppenheimer hearing transcript.

[Part 2 of 3]

J. Robert Oppenheimer achieved prominence, first in the scientific community and later with the public at large, for his work in Los Alamos, New Mexico as the director of the civilian branch of the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. In the spring of 1942, he was asked to lead the project to develop an atomic bomb for use against the Germans, who were feared to be developing one as well. After the program succeeded, he was praised and showered with respect for his scientific work and managerial skill during the war.

In the years immediately following the war, Oppenheimer remained an important voice on nuclear policy, serving as a member of the Board of Consultants to the Atomic Energy Commission. Oppenheimer’s stature was also strong within the world of academia, and in 1947 he became director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, home to Albert Einstein among many other luminaries.

However, in December 1953, less than a decade after the war’s end, Oppenheimer’s security clearance was revoked. Alleged to be maintaining communist ties and admonished for his opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb, Oppenheimer was effectively exiled from the atomic community. As a result, a blank wall was erected between Oppenheimer and the secret data to which he once had access, and his sterling public reputation was put at severe risk.

The government’s about-face on Oppenheimer was a direct result of a redefinition by President Dwight Eisenhower of what it meant to be a loyal American. President Harry Truman had issued the first loyalty order in 1947, and under his definition, security risks were largely outlined as being political. With Eisenhower’s redefinition six years later, the risk was viewed as more general and based on character, stability, and reliability.

The language of Eisenhower’s new loyalty order, issued in April 1953, empowered the government to levy charges against Oppenheimer, based almost entirely on past suspicions of Oppenheimer’s loyalties. In 1947 Oppenheimer had admitted an association with the Communist Party in the 1930s, but within the constructs of Truman’s loyalty definition, Oppenheimer was allowed to continue his work.

In 1953, emboldened by the change in context brought about by Eisenhower, charges were brought against Oppenheimer by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), led by Chairman Lewis Strauss. This despite the fact that no breaches of security had been traced to the scientist.

In late December 1953, Oppenheimer was told that his security clearance had been revoked and secret documents that he held in Princeton were withdrawn. Given the chance to resign his AEC affiliation or face a hearing, Oppenheimer refused to step down, believing that doing so would serve as an admission of guilt.


The AEC hearing prompted important questions about the relationship between science and politics during the Cold War.  Of the twenty-four charges brought against Oppenheimer, only one was new.  Oppenheimer’s past ties with communism were known to many, having been voiced by the scientist to the House Un-American Affairs Committee in 1947. What was new, however, was the allegation that Oppenheimer squarely opposed the H-bomb. This allegation effectively served as the entry point for Eisenhower’s new definition of risk, as Oppenheimer’s essentially moral objections to the weapon were now under trial.

Many other questions also clouded the hearing, among them the problem of using old information for new allegations.  The charges that were brought against Oppenheimer likewise commonly included vague claims, many of which began “it was reported…” and involved hazy dates or unidentified witnesses.

The charges were further countered by the prevailing belief within the scientific community that, without Oppenheimer, the first atomic bombs would not have been built as quickly as they were and that, even though he was against the development of the H-bomb at first, he never purposefully slowed down its development.

It would seem as well that Oppenheimer’s perspective was hardly unique. In fact, even Edward Teller, commonly referred to as “The Father of the Hydrogen Bomb,” explained in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the difficulties that were encountered with recruiting scientists to work on the weapon largely stemmed from their general dislike for the H-bomb.

Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1954.

Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1954.

The Oppenheimer hearing began on April 12, 1954 and lasted for four weeks. Already a high profile affair, its atmospherics became more pitched through the self-insertion of Senator Joseph McCarthy himself. McCarthy, as pointed out in a contemporary piece written by syndicated columnist Drew Pearson,

decided to jump into the Oppenheimer story only after the AEC investigation was well under way.  As a result, Strauss was scared to death last week over where his probe he started is heading.

Indeed, McCarthy’s involvement and the trial’s placement in the public spotlight changed its nature dramatically. No longer was the hearing simply about Oppenheimer’s loyalty. Now the entire role of scientists in politics and the standards to which they were to be held was being examined. As Pearson’s column suggested, Commissioner Strauss came to regret having stirred up this particular hornet’s nest, worrying that his actions might alienate the scientists who were central to his success as AEC chairman.

Furthermore, Strauss’s hearing likely played into McCarthy’s hands by creating an opportunity for him to get involved in the debate.  McCarthy had wanted to go after Oppenheimer before, but was advised not to primarily because his record had already been cleared in 1947.  However, with the trial opened by a different party, McCarthy could now talk more freely about suspected spies in the atomic bomb program. If he was challenged, he only needed to mention Oppenheimer’s suspension as evidence for his point of view.

After nearly one month spent collecting testimony – including some twenty-seven hours given by Oppenheimer – the hearing finally concluded and, on May 27, the committee issued its decision: Oppenheimer’s security clearance was permanently revoked. The facts damning Oppenheimer’s position had not changed since they were first recorded six years earlier, but the conclusions drawn from these facts were new, abetted by Eisenhower’s revised security standard. In our next post, we will examine the broader reaction to the committee’s decision, including Linus Pauling’s very public response to the trial of his former friend.

Lawrence Badash, 1934-2010

Lawrence Badash speaking at the 2007 Pauling conference held at Oregon State University.

We were very sorry to learn of the death of Dr. Lawrence Badash, professor emeritus in the history of science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Dr. Badash died on August 23, 2010 after a short bout with cancer.

It was our good fortune to work with Dr. Badash on a handful of occasions.  Most recently he participated in our 2007 conference “The Scientist as Educator and Public Citizen: Linus Pauling and His Era,” held in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Pauling’s publication of the seminal text General Chemistry.  Badash’s contribution to the proceedings was a typically thoughtful and intriguing talk titled “Science in the McCarthy Period: Training Ground for Scientists as Public Citizens.”  In it, he argued that

Demagoguery functions much like a preemptive strike: ‘Flag wavers’ paint those who may be effective opponents as unpatriotic. This occurred during the period 1945-1960, as Joseph McCarthy and others stirred fears of Communist influence in the United States. At first lauded for their creation of the atomic bomb and other World War II activities, scientists increasingly were criticized for their international orientation and left-leaning politics. American scientists were sometimes denied passports, foreign scientists were often deprived of visas, barriers were erected to prevent the exchange of information, jobs were lost. But scientists fought back, occasionally changing policy or at least embarrassing officialdom. Such efforts reinvigorated a flagging sense of the need for political participation among scientists.

Several years before the 2007 conference, Badash conducted extensive research in the Personal Safe series of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers.  Badash was specifically interested in investigating the near-appointment of Linus Pauling at UC-Santa Barbara in 1964.

As published in Physics in Perspective 11 (2009): 4-14, Badash found that Pauling himself actively solicited an appointment at UCSB.  Having left the California Institute of Technology following the organization’s chilly reaction to Pauling’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, and dissatisfied with the resources available to him at his next stop, the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Pauling began looking toward UCSB, which was located not far away from the CSDI.

Pauling’s offer was to work without salary, (Xerox inventor and Caltech physics alum Chester Carlson had agreed to provide financial support for Pauling’s work) spending three-quarters of his time on scientific matters and one-quarter on “peace work.”  He would occupy an office at Santa Barbara and act as “essentially a full-time Professor of Chemistry…. but not present any regular courses of lectures.”

This offer was met with resistance from UCSB Chancellor Vernon Cheadle, who did not inform the university’s chemistry faculty of Pauling’s proposal and ultimately refused to even file the paperwork necessary for the offer to come under preliminary review by the University of California.   Though the era of McCarthy had passed by 1964, fears of controversial individuals with supposedly radical ties were still heavily prevalent in certain circles.  Badash notes

Throughout 1964, minutes of meetings of the UC Regents contain a number of references to academic freedom, while urging that speakers at the university be acceptable.  Clearly, the board was uncomfortable having Communists speak on campuses.  Ronald Reagan, who would run for governor in 1966, was making a name for himself condemning the recklessness of the free-speech movement and, by implication, the Regents.

Pauling fought for an appointment for nearly a year, even appealing to then-Governor Pat Brown to intercede on his behalf.  His pleas fell upon deaf ears though – in this climate, there would be no position at Santa Barbara.

One year later, however, Pauling did find an advocate in chemist Joseph E. Mayer, who invited the double Nobel laureate to join the staff of a different UC school – the University of California, San Diego.  Backed by signed petitions submitted by the university’s departments of chemistry, physics and biology, Pauling was appointed professor in residence and research chemist beginning July 1, 1967.  He would stay at UCSD for two years, before resigning in protest of Governor Reagan’s educational policies and moving on to Stanford.

Badash saw UC-Santa Barbara’s failure to hire Pauling as a “bungled opportunity.”  In concluding his 2009 article he suggests

Since UCSD was able to appoint Pauling for at least the first year, without needing regential approval, UCSB must have had the same authority.  Chancellor Vernon Cheadle may not have wished to exercise that authority, or, more likely, the idea of a one-year appointment was not raised in 1964.  Both UCSB and UCSD were relatively new campuses, with chancellors who were sensitive to the political climate in the state and especially among the Regents.  As might be expected, on both campuses the faculty members seemed more concerned with the quality of their departments.  Some faculty, recalling that period, felt that Pauling was a disruptive person who would not necessarily have been a good colleague.  Yet, his presence would instantly have raised the UCSB Department of Chemistry’s stature, then and now the bottom line.

Lawrence Badash’s papers have been deposited with the UC-Santa Barbara Special Collections.  The finding aid is available here.  An excellent obituary published by the Santa Barbara Independent is also online.

The Independent Citizen’s Committee for the Arts, Sciences and Professions

Is it not more realistic, more practical to use the gifts of nature, as discovered by science, for the good of all the people of the world, considering them as brothers, than for death and destruction? I believe that the discovery of atomic power will be recognized as necessitating world unity, and that the goal of a continually peaceful and happy world, which a few years ago was hardly visible in the greatly distant future, will be achieved within our generation.

-Linus Pauling, “Atomic Energy and World Government,” speech delivered before the Hollywood chapter of ICCASP, November, 30, 1945.

As we’ve well-documented by now, following the end of the Second World War, Linus Pauling began to involve himself with several organizations devoted to peace. The Independent Citizen’s Committee for the Arts, Sciences, and Professions (ICCASP) was one of the first peace-oriented organizations to extend Pauling an invitation. At its heart, the ICCASP was a liberal-leaning lobbying group comprised of artists and intellectuals. The group was started after the end of the war in 1945, and included among its membership a host of well-known names including Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles. Even Ronald Reagan temporarily filled a vacancy on the board of directors, though he promptly resigned when allegations of communist infiltration within the group began to arise.

In November 1945, Pauling was invited to speak before the ICCASP about atomic weapons. Pauling discussed the science behind the bomb, emphasizing the destructive force of atomic detonation in terms of more conventional explosives. He also shared his cost estimates for creating nuclear weapons, which were surprisingly low when compared to other types of explosives such as TNT, at least in terms of their destructive potential.

Beyond the science of the bomb, the political implications of atomic development were also stressed, with Pauling vehemently advocating the creation of a single world government to regulate atomic technology and to promote peace among nations. The speech went well except for a small controversy that arose during the question and answer section of the engagement, during which Pauling provided an estimate of the number of atomic weapons which were likely then in existence – an action that was frowned upon in press coverage of the evening.

Charles Chaplin (left), Linus Pauling and Hewlett Johnson (right). 1940s.

Shortly after his November talk, Linus Pauling and his wife Ava Helen were invited to join the ICCASP. Following their introduction to the new social network, the Paulings found themselves chatting with famous actors, hobnobbing at exclusive cocktail parties, and enjoying several behind-the-scenes privileges typically reserved exclusively for the Hollywood elite. Pauling took his role in the organization seriously, but he soon grew weary of the busy social calendar prompted by membership in ICCASP. He was a scientist, and his interests found little expression outside of the group’s formal meetings. Nonetheless, Pauling was highly regarded by the group; his expertise and enthusiasm for the issues of the day were valued by the organization, and he was eventually named regional chairman of the Science and Education division.

Despite his lack of interest in Hollywood glamor, Pauling continued his involvement with the committee for several years. Among other opportunities, the organization provided him with a place to share ideas and to engage in the dialogue helping to shape the public’s understanding of important social issues. The minutes of a meeting from January 21, 1946, which addressed the steady demise of academic freedom, provide an example of this type of engagement.  Reading through the document, one notes Pauling’s disdain for the censorship and intimidation that were threatening objective inquiry in academic society. The tone of the following text is typical of Pauling’s perspective.

There is, of course, always a threat to academic freedom – as there is to the other aspects of the freedom and rights of the individual, in the continued attacks which are made on this freedom, these rights, by the selfish, the overly ambitious, the misguided, the unscrupulous, who seek to oppress the great body of mankind in order that they themselves may profit – and we must always be on the alert against this threat, and must fight it with vigor when it becomes dangerous.

Like many of the groups advocating for peace at the time, the ICCASP was generally supportive of cooperation with the Soviet Union. As the Soviet government assumed a more aggressive posture following the war however, a growing tide of anti-communist sentiment in America made it difficult for groups to continue such open support. Soon many of these organizations, including the ICCASP, came under suspicion of the House Un-American Activities Committee. In the volatile environment that was emerging, loyalty oaths and examinations were becoming more and more common. Many of those who would not submit to such measures were systematically harassed and blacklisted from various organizations and even occupations.

The ICCASP had been involved with the defeat of the May-Johnson bill, but as opposing forces gained in stature, the influence of the organization began to diminish. Of greater concern was the fact that involvement in the organization was eventually used by investigators as proof of cooperation with communist conspiracy – a tactic used effectively by the House Un-American Activities Committee in its 1947 grilling of the “Hollywood Ten“.

Similarly, Senator Joseph McCarthy himself accused Linus Pauling of involvement with the Communist party in 1950. During subsequent investigations by the FBI, HUAC and an internal investigation at Caltech, Pauling’s association with the ICCASP was consistently held against him. Pauling, at great personal cost, withstood the attacks of his accusers, and was eventually cleared of any wrong doing. Though it caused him much grief, Pauling refused to renounce his affiliation with the ICCASP – nor, for that matter, did he cut ties with any other organization whose membership had put him under suspicion.

Thomas J. Dodd, Head of the SISS

Thomas J. Dodd, ca. 1950s.

[Part 2 of 5]

“I gladly confess that I recall Tom Dodd as a somehow larger and more appealing figure than his critics acknowledge or the record of the recent past shows. For twelve years I followed him, long enough to leave with me some fond memories and a share in his guilt. Had he been only an empty or venal man, his story would be unimportant. It is what he might have become, had the system through which he rose encouraged his strengths instead of his weaknesses, that gives to his fall an element of tragedy and hence a claim to significance.”

– James Boyd, former staff member and associate

When Linus Pauling was called to appear before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in June 1960, Thomas J. Dodd was the active Subcommittee Chairman.  Pauling’s perception of Dodd was strongly (and understandably) shaped by the unjust position in which he had been placed by the Subcommittee. However the true character and life of Thomas Dodd, as revealed by those who knew him personally, is full of complexity and suggestive of the prevailing practices of U.S. government officials around the middle of the previous century.

Thomas Joseph Dodd was born in Norwich, Connecticut on May 15, 1907. There he attended public schools, and received training in Roman Catholicism throughout most of his childhood. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Providence College, and received a law degree from Yale University in 1933. He married a year later, and eventually raised six children.

Dodd worked at the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a special agent for one year, before being appointed Director of the National Youth Administration for Connecticut. He later served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General, during which time he was best known for his role in the prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members in South Carolina and for defending labor rights in Georgia.

During World War II, Dodd primarily worked on cases involving espionage and sabotage, but also played a role in uncovering fraud by American industrial firms. Following the end of the war, he was solicited to aid in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals at the Nuremburg trials in Germany. Active in virtually all aspects of the prosecution, Dodd served as Vice-Chairman of the Review Board and Executive Trial Counsel, essentially making him the second ranking lawyer and supervisor for the U.S. prosecution team.

After returning from Europe, Dodd entered into private practice and was subsequently elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1952 after an unsuccessful run for governor of Connecticut in 1948. Ten years later, in 1958, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, serving on the Judiciary Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As part of his duties he co-chaired the Internal Security Subcommittee, the junction at which he crossed paths with Linus Pauling.

Dodd was known by colleagues for his low level of partisanship, but he was more widely recognized for his stance as a strident anti-communist. (The journalist Drew Pearson referred to him as a “bargain-basement McCarthy.”) His world view was fundamentally inspired by notions of loyalty, and he made a name for himself as one who remained loyal to beleaguered political figures in times of crisis. To his family and those close to him, he was admired for his mirth, humor, generosity and capacity for fellowship, and during his career as a public servant, Senator Dodd often felt he was upholding a strict moral code. Despite his seemingly lofty ideals and persona however, Dodd faltered as he became increasingly intermingled in prevalent and customary forms of political graft.

"Russ Said Developing 'Death Ray,'" Pasadena Star-News, July 11, 1961. (click for entire article)

Though the events that transpired in 1960 with Linus Pauling proved a major event, the time he spent on the SISS was seen by supporters and critics alike as a comparatively minor chapter in his life. He is instead more widely recognized in general both for his notable rise through U.S. institutions, as well as for his misconduct with regard to government ethics violations. His crimes reflected practices that were common in most spheres of state and national politics at the time, and he was reprimanded reluctantly for his transgressions.

After violating flaccid campaign finance laws and abusing government funds, Senator Dodd was involved in a drawn-out congressional inquiry that ended in his censure by the U.S. Senate. Prior to the vote by his peers, a clerk read out the following Censure Resolution:

It is the judgment of the Senate that the Senator from Connecticut, Thomas J. Dodd… deserves the censure of the Senate and he is so censured for his conduct, which is contrary to accepted morals, derogates from the public trust expected of a Senator, and tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.

Senator Dodd’s censure, which took place seven years after his confrontation with Linus Pauling, made him the first Senator in U.S. history to be censured for financial misconduct. (He was also the first Senator to be censured since Joseph McCarthy in 1954, and one of only six Senators censured over the whole of the twentieth century.) Though the possibility of criminal investigation from the IRS and Justice Department loomed overhead, Dodd carried on much as though nothing had happened. Ignoring an outcry for his resignation, he remained on his committees and continued to exercise his basic senatorial duties.

Ultimately, the Senate did not pursue any further investigation, instead concluding their formal report with a reprimand aimed at Dodd’s accusers, many of them former staff members. Dodd was allowed to complete his term largely undisturbed, wielding the waning power that remained within his grasp. The censure vote did have lasting effects for the system as a whole however, publicly demonstrating the need for legislative ethics law reform. Reflecting back on the time period, a former aide later an explanation for Dodd’s fraudulent conduct, and the Senate’s hesitant enforcement:

The Senate appeared to Dodd not as a harsh and extracting judge, but as a permissive and protective accomplice. His occasional inanities in debate would always appear in the Record as words of wisdom. His absence would be reported as a presence. His vacation trips would not only be paid for by the Senate, but would be billed as ‘official business.’ His honorariums and legal kickbacks and finder fees and gifts were excused from the prohibitions that covered all government officials except Congressmen and Senators. His fraudulent campaign reports would always be accepted at face value. Not only could he keep unsavory contributions, he could route them through the Senate Campaign Committee and thus hide their origin. He could use his official allowances to buy birthday presents, wedding invitations, and the like, and no one would know. He had reason to consider himself immune from investigation.

Spurned by the Democratic Party, Dodd lost in his bid to run as an Independent in the 1970 Senate re-election campaign.  Less than one year later, on May 24, 1971, he fell victim to a heart attack, dying in his home at the age of 64.

Louis Budenz, Informant

Louis Budenz, March 1956.

Uncover a red doing his stuff on a college faculty and a hue and cry is raised over ‘academic freedom,’ as though these people had a God-given right to infect our children with their made-in-Moscow virus….We should understand that this ’cause of peace’ as peddled by the reds is the destruction of the government of the United States.

-Louis Budenz, November 1951.

Louis F. Budenz (1891-1972), a former Communist Party member, became an FBI informant in the late 1940s. Before starting what was effectively a career as a professional informant, he had been managing director of the Daily Worker, a nationally distributed socialist news outlet. Budenz began consultation with the FBI after submitting to an inquiry by the House Un-American Activities Committee. He became a staff-member at Fordham University shortly thereafter, at which point began writing books about his former association with the Communist Party. He made his living lecturing, writing, and testifying, claiming in 1953 to have earned $70,000 as a witness.

In one of his books, Men Without Faces, Budenz claimed to know the names of 400 concealed communists currently employed in positions of influence across the United States.  Predictably, a government panel in Washington, D.C. wanted the names of them all. Budenz dutifully sat before the panel and listed all of the names that he could think of, eventually issuing that of Linus Pauling.

The denunciation resulted in an investigation by the FBI, and Pauling was put under increased surveillance. The investigation concluded that, even in light of his activities with questionable organizations, no evidence could be found that Pauling was involved with the Communist Party. Nonetheless, Pauling was still put onFBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s Security Index, a list of high profile citizens that were considered a threat to American security.

Using the Security Index as his platform, Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed that communists had infiltrated America’s atom projects. In the sweep of these claims, Pauling’s name was pulled from the Budenz testimony and mistakenly added to a list of researchers that had worked on atomic science research. (Though Pauling conducted a great deal of research on behalf of his country during World War II, he was not involved with the Manhattan Project or any affiliated projects.)

Though backed by no tangible evidence, this torrent of accusations significantly damaged Pauling’s reputation. The claims were subsequently magnified by coinciding events, including his support of Sidney Weinbaum and his continued political activism.

Pauling’s reputation was not the only thing damaged as a consequence – the allegations and denunciations were hurting his pocket book too. The Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company, to name one example, discontinued Pauling’s $4,800 a year consulting position – a contract that had been renewed less than a year earlier.

Invitations from a number of organizations previously extended to Pauling were rescinded as well.  Shortly before Budenz’s denunciation, Pauling had been invited to keynote the dedication ceremony for a new chemistry laboratory at the University of Hawaii. A month after extending the invitation, the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii canceled the offer that had previously been unanimously approved. Pauling suspected that the accusations made by Budenz were chiefly responsible for the rescinded invitation.  In short order, Pauling was subsequently invited to lecture by a number of other university departments and societies, and wound up speaking several times in Hawaii, though not as originally planned.

Meanwhile, the attacks continued with Budenz openly criticizing Pauling’s decision to lecture in Hawaii in a 1951 American Legion Magazine article.

American Legion Magazine, November 1951.

Pauling’s record being disclosed, the invitation was withdrawn by the University; but he went out there anyway to spread Stalin’s views of ‘peace’ among the students of that institution. He deserves the laurels he has received from the communists, and the fact that he is an atomic physicist in one of our leading universities on the west coast is something to think over seriously. The recent condemnation by Moscow of Dr. Pauling’s celebrated ‘resonance theory’ in chemistry does not seem to have dimmed his ardor on behalf of Stalinite causes.

– Louis Budenz, “Do Colleges Have to Hire Red Professors?”, American Legion Magazine, November 1951.

The article contained a number of other statements about Pauling, all of which were refuted in a letter that Pauling wrote to the editor of the magazine.

Though Pauling did his best to reply to his critics, he was granted little respite.  In 1952 a House special committee was formed to investigate charitable foundations for the presence of communist influence on aid distribution. Budenz testified and once again denounced Pauling, who was at that time a member of the Guggenheim Foundation advisory board. Though Budenz was the accuser, it was members of the committee that brought up Pauling’s name to begin with, allowing the witness to validate their own suspicions.

Mr. Keele: I just want to say this. I believe that Dr. Linus Pauling was on the advisory boards which chose, or is yet perhaps on the advisory boards which chose, fellows for the Guggenheim Fund. What do you know about Linus Pauling?

Mr. Budenz: In connection with Dr. Pauling’s many memberships on Communist fronts, I was officially advised a number of times in the late-, that is, in the middle-Forties, that he was a member of the Communist Party under discipline. The Communist leaders expressed the highest admiration and confidence in Dr. Pauling.

– Testimony transcript, Select Committee on Foundations, 1952.

Though Pauling had been trying to diminish his presence in political affairs, he felt strongly inclined to defend himself publicly against the new accusations. Just one of a growing chorus denouncing Budenz as a professional liar, Pauling vehemently denied the allegations and suggested that Budenz be prosecuted for perjury, a fate suffered by his Caltech associate Sidney Weinbaum. However, unlike Weinbaum, Budenz was not liable for perjury, because his testimony was protected by congressional privilege. Pauling was angered by the whole affair, and particularly disturbed by the fact that Budenz’s behavior was aided by a committee of the United States Congress.

Though Pauling did his best to put these events behind him, the allegations would not be so easily discarded. Even as Budenz’s influence began to diminish, the claims that he made against Pauling hovered over subsequent investigations of Pauling’s activity. Two years after Budenz’s charges against Pauling, and despite the lack of any new evidence, the suspicion that Pauling was a concealed communist topped a list of allegations that held up Pauling’s multiple passport requests.

The whispers resurfaced again in 1953 when Pauling – his passport finally restored – made a visit to Europe, where he attended a dinner held by a world government sympathizer and a number of Russian delegates. The visit prompted J. Edgar Hoover to file a report to the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney General’s office, a copy of Budenz’s statement attached.

The pattern was established. Though Pauling would persevere and continue to achieve at an historic level, the stigma thrust upon him as a result of the actions of Louis Budenz would, in the minds of many, color his persona for the remainder of his life.