Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: FBI Probed For Communist Ties (but never found any)

Historians in the News

Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a key adviser to President John F. Kennedy, was investigated for his suspected links to communists, according to previously secret FBI documents obtained by Newsmax under the Freedom of Information Act.

During the 1960s, there was so much hostility between Schlesinger and then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that Hoover scribbled a note on a document calling Schlesinger a "jackass."

Schlesinger, who died in February 2007, served as a special assistant in the Kennedy White House for Latin American affairs, and was one of only two leading advisers who counseled against the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. He also had served as a speechwriter for JFK, as well as other Democrats including Adlai Stevenson, Robert Kennedy and George McGovern.

Schlesinger was informally known as the White House's "court historian" and reportedly took notes that Kennedy intended to use when writing a history after he left office. Those notes became the basis for Schlesinger's, "A Thousand Days," a definitive book about the Kennedy presidency that became a runaway bestseller.

Born in 1917, Schlesinger was first investigated by the FBI in 1948 when he was asked to assist W. Averell Harriman with the Economic Cooperation Administration in Paris.

One individual told the Bureau that Schlesinger, then a Harvard professor, was a "liberal throughout the Roosevelt era and, like so many other liberals, was pro-Soviet."

But a 1959 document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act noted that this statement was an "isolated one," and that "all persons interviewed believed him to be entirely loyal to the United States."

The report observed that there may have been confusion between Schlesinger and his father, also named Arthur Schlesinger, a noted historian who "has belonged to many organizations declared subversive by the Attorney General." Some activities associated with Schlesinger Sr. may have been incorrectly attributed to his son, the FBI reported....

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