The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 132
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
States when they were carried into political action. As recently as 1964 a
scholar identified the subject of this article as "Martin Dies of Texas, fa-
ther of the famous red-baiter." The son copied much of the father's con-
servatism. And their style, skills, and ambitions were similar. Both were
exceptionally able public speakers. Both were aggressive, ambitious, and
eager for money and power without the full ability to acquire either to
the extent they wished.2
Martin Dies Sr. was known throughout his life (and since) as a fierce
nativist. In his young political days he had been a Populist, or at least
used the Populist Party to gain office, and until the end of his life was a
passionate anti-imperialist. On the personal side, Dies was a noted pub-
lic speaker, fast with a witticism, and charming. But in spite of his pleas-
ing manner and potentially persuasive loquacity, his measurable
accomplishments in Congress were few. Moreover, although he was a so-
cial conservative who strongly defended the traditional family and
thought that a woman's place was in the home, he was also a divorced al-
coholic who at times faced serious financial difficulties.3
The son observed and seems to have understood these personal con-
tradictions and troubles, and in virtually every area pursued paths that
led around the pitfalls. He employed a public-speaking skill nearly equal
to, and a publicity-generating ability well beyond, his father's attain-
ments. He also followed his father's example in his political conser-
vatism and vehement antisocialism, for in those the elder Dies exercised
a strong influence. Thus the younger man, through his seven-year chair-
manship of the Committee on Un-American Activities, was an important
force in establishing routine and thoughtless anti-Communism as an in-
trinsic part of American political life in a key period in world history-
twenty years after the Bolsheviks came to power and as the United States
was rising to the top of the capitalist world in World War II.
As with many nineteenth-century Texans, Martin Dies Sr. came to the
state from elsewhere. Born in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, in 1870, a shirt-
tail relative of Huey Long, his parents brought him to Texas in 1876,
presumably as part of the massive migration resulting from the severe
hard times of the 1870s. The family settled in Fairfield, southeast of Dal-
las, where his father, David Dies, farmed and published a newspaper.
Later they moved around, finally coming to rest in Woodville, Tyler
County, in the deep East Texas piney woods, where Martin and his three
s George C. Herring Jr., "James Hay and the Preparedness Controversy, 1915-1916," Journal
of Southern History, 30 (1964), 396.
s His first wife (Martin Dies Jr.'s mother) ended her days in a mental institution. There is no
indication that her mental state was pertinent in the divorce action, or that it caused Dies Senior
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/175/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.