Pete Seeger Was Part of Secret FBI Investigation Before Senator McCarthy

By Ian Holubiak | Dec 24, 2015 10:02 PM EST
Musician Pete Seeger performs in the Clearwater Benefit Concert Celebrating Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday at Madison Square Garden on May 3, 2009 in New York City. (Photo : Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

It's no secret that the late-Pete Seeger was subject to Senator Joe McCarthy's red scare tactics. But it's been reported that the musician was listed earlier than he let on. In a publicly obtained FBI report, it appears the feds were spying on Seeger even when he was enlisted in the Army.

You know the name, Pete Seeger, the gentle giant of folk music who wrote and championed songs like "If I Had a Hammer," "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "This Land is Your Land" was also a target for the FBI. During the Cold War, Communist sympathizers were put in a file and blacklisted (or "redlisted" depending on who you talk to) in their community.

Seeger, who has always been a public figure of peace and progression, also exuded similar ideals when he was drafted into the Army in 1942. In a file obtained by Mother Jones under the Freedom of Information Act, Seeger wrote a letter protesting the proposal to deport Japanese American citizens at the culmination of World War II.

The singer wrote:

"We, who may have to give our lives in this great struggle-we're fighting precisely to free the world of such Hitlerism, such narrow jingoism.

If you deport Japanese, why not Germans, Italians, Rumanians, Hungarians, and Bulgarians?

If you bar from citizenship descendants of Japanese, why not descendants of English? After all, we once fought with them too.

America is great and strong as she is because we have so far been a haven to all oppressed.

I felt sick at heart to read of this matter."

Not long after, the letter was sent, it was forwarded to the FBI, who began an extensive investigation on the man at large. Later in the century, Seeger would eventually be put on the list that would ban him from being an entertainer for claiming his associations with the Communist Party.

Refer to the file for an extensive report on the singer and be sure to keep your morals strong with a performance by Seeger below.

Latest Updated

Trending Stories