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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Adamson's reponse to the charges that she had spied for the Soviets

Bentley's accusations plagued Adamson for several years to come. She explains how she tried to counter the negative publicity and why she did not sue Bentley for libel.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you ever consider suing Bentley for libel?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
No, I didn't at that time, which would have been the time to do it, but I was so much involved with the campaign that I really couldn't do anything about it. Then because my friends in North Carolina didn't have a job to give me . . .I had to have something to live on, and my enemies wouldn't give me a job, I had to leave North Carolina to get a job. So, it happened that I knew more people in Washington than I did in New York at that point, so I went from Greensboro to Washington and some Progressive party angels took me in to stay with them as long as I wanted and helped me to find an apartment when I got a job where I could pay the rent. My friend, Don Henderson of the Tobacco Workers Union in Winston-Salem, as I think I said, had a legislative office. He and the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers man had a legislative office in Washington and so, he said that I could go to work in that office, which I did for some months.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Later, in 1954 or so, didn't you testify at a grand jury hearing of the whole affair?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Oh, look. In the Wallace campaign, I was talking about when I organized those meetings and one of them was held in Louisville while I was there organizing that business and just before the meeting took place, somebody came knocking at my door and gave me a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in New York City. So, I had to leave Louisvilleto go to New York for that grand jury session, go back to Louisville and finish up running that meeting.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This was during the . . . .
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
This was during '48.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It wasn't later? It wasn't as late as '54?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
No. I went to another grand jury and I could figure the time, but it was when I was living in New York, after I got back from France. I had to go down to Camden to a grand jury and I was before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the course of that time, too.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, what was involved in the subpoena and testimony when you went, had to leave during the campaign and go up and testify?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Well, apparently I must have . . .I didn't realize this when we first talked about it, but I must have known that Elizabeth Bentley was on the prowl at that time, because I knew that New York grand jury session was in relation to stories that she had told, but this didn't blast forth in the press until later on. People that I was working with knew about it, I mean that I hadn't tried to hide it. Naturally, I didn't go around and in public meetings discuss my experiences at the grand jury, but I had not made a secret about it. So, it wasn't entirely a complete surprise when the press came to me. It was a surprise that Bentley had gotten to the point of getting people taken in by it. The publicity of the McCarthy era was really what it amounted to. The press had swallowed all this stuff.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you want to refuse to testify or did you feel that by testifying you could straighten it out?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
By that time, I had advice of counsel and the wonderful legal profession gave me counsel about how to handle the situation. By that time, there were enough other people who were in the same circumstances that they had worked out already about how to take the Fifth Amendment, just not to talk about it. So, I refrained from talking about it. As a matter of fact, I probably should have said to you in all this talking somewhere or another, "I decline to answer that question on the basis of my rights under the Fifth Amendment." (Laughter)
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Didn't Elizabeth Bentley name or also try to implicate Mildred in her testimony?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Yes. So, Mildred will tell you about that.