Home > Fun, Government Information, Legal Research, Library Collection > Arthur Miller and The House Un-American Activities Committee … in the Limelight

Arthur Miller and The House Un-American Activities Committee … in the Limelight

Say “Arthur Miller” to a lawyer or a law student and most think of Arthur R. Miller, eminent scholar on civil procedure and co-author of Federal Practice & Procedure (aka “Wright and Miller” to many), and star of the Sum and Substance Civil Procedure recordings. But this week two Wake Forest Law professors will be shining a light on another Arthur Miller – playwright, Tony-award winning author of The Crucible and Death of a Salesman, and one-time husband of Marilyn Monroe.

The Crucible dramatizes the 17th century Salem Witch Trials, a real-life “witch hunt” that exemplified the metaphorical use of the term. It was written in 1952 and premiered in 1953, and was first produced as a motion picture in France in 1957. (More readers are probably familiar with the American film from 1996, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.)

The Crucible is often seen as a denunciation of McCarthyism. Miller had worked on several projects with Elia Kazan, who had in 1952 testified and identified members or former members of the Communist Party, and Miller reportedly broke with Kazan over his “friendly” testimony. Miller was under some suspicion of being a Communist or sympathizer himself, based on petitions signed and meetings attended dating back to the 1940s. In 1954, Miller’s passport application was denied by the Department of State in 1954, for being a “fellow traveler.” On June 21, 1956, about the time of his marriage to Monroe, he was subpoenaed and subsequently appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (commonly referred to as HUAC). Miller refused to “name names” and was convicted of contempt of Congress (152 F.Supp. 781 (D.D.C. 1957)). His conviction overturned in a one page per curiam opinion, 259 F. 2d 187 (D.C. Cir. 1958).

Intrigued? Come to the CLE at noon on March 1st. Want to read more about Congressional investigations, HUAC, McCarthyism, or  17th Century Witch Trials? Check out these resources from the Professional Center Library!

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