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H. O'Connor, McCarthy Foe, Dies at Age 90

September 05, 1987|From Times Wire Services

LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. — Harvey O'Connor, whom Sen. Joseph McCarthy called "the most contumacious witness ever to appear" before his committee and a lifelong Socialist who wrote about America's millionaires and corporations, has died. He was 90.

O'Connor died Monday in the home he shared here with his wife, Jessie, for more than 40 years, associates said.

O'Connor twice was cited for contempt of Congress in the 1950s because he repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether he had ever been a Communist.

Charges Overturned

The charges were eventually overturned, but he said the confrontations led publishers to blacklist his later books.

O'Connor appeared before McCarthy's Senate permanent investigations subcommittee in 1953 and told members that authors are not accountable to Congress for their political views. Although he refused to answer McCarthy's questions, he told reporters outside the hearing room that he had never been a Communist.

In November, 1955, he was convicted of contempt of Congress and fined $500, a conviction that a federal appeals court later overturned.

O'Connor was cited for contempt of Congress a second time when he refused to answer a subpoena issued by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1958.

Indictment Dropped

That indictment was dropped six years later.

O'Connor at the time founded and became chairman of the National Committee to Abolish HUAC.

During his career, O'Connor wrote several books, including "Wealth Against Commonwealth: The History of Standard Oil," "Mellon's Millions," "Steel Dictator," "The Guggenheims" and "The Astors."

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