Wyoming Senator Edward Crippa in the McCarthy era

Though a small collection, the Edward D. Crippa papers are of historical interest.  Crippa (1899-1960), who had served in World War I and been Wyoming state highway commissioner from 1941 to 1947, was appointed to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate following the death of Lester Hunt.

Edward_David_Crippa

U.S. Senator Edward D. Crippa, 1954. Photo courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office

He was in the Senate for only five months, but his papers during that time show that he dealt with both local concerns and issues of national concern.  Local concerns included reclamation projects regarding the Echo Park Dam, the Glendo Dam, the Missouri River, and the Upper Colorado River, the closing of the Alumina Plant in Laramie, the need for light fixtures at a post office in Rock Springs, and the 1954 drought that affected much of the Midwest, including Wyoming.

On the national front, Senator Joe McCarthy’s continuing investigations of alleged infiltration by communists into the federal government led, in 1954, to criticisms of his methods and to the Army-McCarthy hearings.  By the time that Crippa got to the Senate, there were increasing calls for the Senate to censure McCarthy, and Crippa received letters from citizens of Wyoming and other states regarding the possibility of censure.

McCarthy_support_letter_2

Letter from a geologist with Sun Oil Company supporting Sen. McCarthy while also stating that Sen. McCarthy may deserve some condemnation, 1954. Edward D. Crippa papers, American Heritage Center University of Wyoming

Most of the letters that Crippa received (or at least those that he kept) recommended that Crippa vote against censure, and in his replies to some those letters, he stated that he would do so.  In the end, he did not do so—he left the Senate four days before the censure vote, which passed 67-22.

McCarthy_support_letter_5

Letter from a man in Missouri in support of Sen. McCarthy, 1954. At the time the letter was written, Missouri had two Democrats in the Senate. Sen. McCarthy was a Republican. Edward D. Crippa papers, American Heritage Center University of Wyoming

Among other materials in the collection that relate to the Cold War and the communist scare are a document produced by Senate Republicans that is titled “Communism – Republicans!   Wake Up! – Don’t Let the Democrats Get Away with This One!”

Republicans_Wake_Up_p1

First page of a document produced by Senate Republicans regarding Communism, 1954. Edward D. Crippa papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

There is also a letter that Crippa received regarding Joseph C. O’Mahoney, the Democrat who was running for Crippa’s seat.  In the letter, the writer noted that O’Mahoney had participated in the defense of Owen Lattimore, who was prosecuted in federal court for perjury before the Senate McCarran Committee’s investigation into communism in the United States.  (The trial judge eventually threw out the charges against Lattimore.)

OMahoney_Lattimore_letter

Letter from Payson Spaulding, an attorney in Evanston, Wyoming, to Sen. Crippa regarding Joseph O’Mahoney’s participation in the defense of Owen Lattimore, 1954. Edward D. Crippa papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

Finally, the collection also contains a resolution from the Wyoming Reserve Officer’s Association criticizing the U.S. Congress.  The language of the resolution is vague, but its assertion that “the world’s greatest army is being subjected to undeserved humiliation which is destroying that respect” suggests that the resolution was aimed at McCarthy’s investigation of the U.S. Army.

Wyoming_Reserve_Resolution

A resolution from the Wyoming Reserve Officer’s Association criticizing the U.S. Congress, 1954. Edward D. Crippa papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

 

To learn more about Edward D. Crippa’s career and about this time period in congressional history, take at look at Crippa’s papers at the American Heritage Center.

– Submitted by Roger Simon, Processing Archivist, Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

This entry was posted in Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, Cold War, Communism, Politics, Uncategorized, western politics and leadership, Wyoming history and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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