The Boston-based firm Allyn & Bacon began publishing Frank Abbott Magruder’s civics textbook American Government in 1917. Revised annually, the book became a fixture in U.S. high schools, where it was long regarded as a straightforward explication of the American political system. During the Joseph McCarthy era after World War II, however, a number of conservative critics, notably Lucille Cardin Crain and Allen Zoll, called for the book’s removal from schools because of its allegedly procommunist stance. Crain’s attacks appeared in the Educational Reviewer, a quarterly newsletter published by the Conference of American Small Business Organizations. Zoll assailed the book in privately issued pamphlets. The criticisms of Crain, Zoll, and others included charges that the textbook promoted communism by endorsing the United Nations Charter and by referring to the U.S. post office as a practical example of socialist policy. As a result, the book was removed from schools in Georgia, Texas, and Arkansas and was the target of pressure in several other states.
After Magruder died in 1949 authorship of American Government was assumed by his protégé, William A. McClenaghan. Attacks on the book did not, however, stop. During the 1950’s the John Birch Society, the Texas Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Minutewomen (a Connecticut group of McCarthy devotees) also began to campaign against the book. With the waning of the Red Scare, such criticisms gradually abated. During the 1960’s, however, Christian Fundamentalists Norma Gabler and Mel Gabler renewed attacks on American Government, this time on religious grounds. They periodically managed to impede adoption of new editions of the book by Texas schools well into the 1990’s.