Cedric Belfrage on Foley Square Trial of American Communists

from: The American Inquisition by Cedric Belfrage
Chapter 10: 1949: "I Appreciate Your Permission To Weep"


1. Party chairman William Poster was "severed" from the trial due to ill health. The defendants were Eugene Dennis, John Williarnson, Jack Stachel, Robert Thompson, ex-New York Councilman Benjamin Davis, Henry Winston, John Gates, Irving Potash, Gil Green, Carl Winter and Gus Hall. (Back to text.)

2. I Led Three Lives (McGraw-Hill, NewYork, 1952) described Philbrick's years "in the shadows where glances must be furtive...days of deception and guile, plotting every move . . . blind calls from telephone booths...hushed instructions hurriedly given . . . sleepless nights and secret meetings on darkened street corners where automobiles drove up, swallowed me and whizzed away." He graduated to "super-secret meetings" conducted in "muffled voices" under "a single ceiling lamp" (one comrade had "markedly red" hair) to which, "cognizant of party instructions," he "wound [his] way up dark, narrow streets" and "slipped in" through a "dim hallway." In this Bostonian hideout he was taught about "the three classes of society" in language at first Aesopian ("but we understood") but moving into such "outright sedition" that I almost dropped my pencil . . . I felt a paroxysm of excitement as I transcribed her words for . . . the Bureau." He prepared his FBI reports in a "secret compactly equipped room behind the furnace" in his home, but comrades distrusted him and even "scrutinized [him] with binoculars." He logically concluded that this was "a mob movement of ruthless totalitarianism" and Marxism was "pap." (Back to text.)

3. George Marion, a heretical chronicler of the trial, recalled the paper produced at the Knave's trial in *Alice in Wonderland*: it was not in the Knave's handwriting, said the White Rabbit, "and that's the queerest thing about it." The King concluded that "he must have imitated someone else's hand . . . If you didn't sign it, that only makes matters worse. You must have meant some mischief or else you'd have signed your name like an honest man. The phrase tellingly introduced by Budenz at Foley Square seems to have been taken from the preface to *Imperialism* where Lenin explains that, writing in exile, he must use "that cursed Aesopian language" to get by the Tsarist censorship, for example writing "Japan" when he means Russia. (Back to text.)

4. Although he saw no cause to repent his defense of Communists, Crockett would be elected to a judgeship many years later by white and fellow-black voters in Detroit. A storm broke around him in 1969 when, after a street battle in which a policeman was killed, Crockett refused to detain 147 Negroes brought in under arrest. According to the *Times* he was by then regarded as "the finest expert on the Constitution on the Detroit bench." Crockett commented: "I know from physical contact what it means when a judge says one year, two years, three years. I don't want to wish it on any of my associates, but I think it would do them some good if they would spend some time in jail." The *Times* preferred (in 1969) not to recall the details of Crockett's jail experience. (Back to text.)


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Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:42:47 EDT