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Robert Ten Broeck Stevens

Robert Ten Broeck Stevens (July 31, 1899 – January 31, 1983) was a U.S. businessman and former chairman of J.P. Stevens and Company, which was one of the most established textile manufacturing plants in the U.S. He served as the Secretary of the Army between 1953 and 1955.

Stevens came into conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy over a series of issues that ultimately lead to the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. In the fall of 1953, McCarthy began an investigation into the Army Signal Corps laboratory at Fort Monmouth. McCarthy's aggressive questioning of Army personnel was damaging to morale, but failed to reveal any sign of the "dangerous spies" that McCarthy alleged to exist.[1] Next McCarthy investigated the case of Irving Peress, an Army dentist who had refused to answer questions in a loyalty-review questionnaire.

As various officers, scientists and other Army staff were subjected to McCarthy's often abusive questioning, Stevens was criticized for capitulating to many of McCarthy's demands and not supporting his men.[2][3]

Concurrent with these events, McCarthy's chief counsel, Roy Cohn, had been pressuring the Army, including Stevens, to give preferential treatment to his friend G. David Schine, who had recently been drafted. The Army-McCarthy hearings were held to investigate the Army's charge that McCarthy and Cohn were making improper demands on behalf of Schine, and McCarthy's counter charge that the Army was holding Schine "hostage" in an attempt to halt McCarthy's investigations into the Army. During the hearings, McCarthy questioned Stevens for several days. Although Stevens is generally considered to have handled the hearings poorly,[4] it was McCarthy who fared worst in the month-long investigation. The exposure before a television audience of McCarthy's methods and manners during the hearings are credited with playing a major role in his ultimate downfall.

Stevens wanted to resign after the incident but was convinced not to quit by then-Vice-President Richard Nixon. He left the office in July 1955, returning to his family textile business. He was active in the leadership of J.P. Stevens and Company until he retired at the age of 70. His children include Bob Stevens from Helena, MT, J. Whitney Stevens from New York, and Tom Stevens from Florida. The family still owns an est. 45,000-acre (180 km2) cattle ranch called the American Fork in Two Dot, MT.

Notes

  1. ^ Stone, Geoffrey R. (2004). Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 384. ISBN 0-393-05880-8.  
  2. ^ Klingaman, William K. (1996). Encyclopedia of the McCarthy Era. Facts on File. pp. 350. ISBN 0816030979.  
  3. ^ Fried, Richard M. (1990). Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective. Oxford University Press. pp. 138. ISBN 0-19-504361-8.  
  4. ^ Adams, John G. (1983). Without Precedent: The Story of the Death of McCarthyism. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 039330230X.  
Military offices
Preceded by
Frank Pace
United States Secretary of the Army
February 1953–July 1955
Succeeded by
Wilber Marion Brucker
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