Born in California in 1914, Hugo DeGregory spent much of his adult life in New England. He was living in Hudson when he came to the attention of Louis Wyman, New Hampshire’s Attorney General, who was investigating “subversive activities.”
Subpoenaed by Wyman in 1954, DeGregory refused to say whether he was a Communist. Despite the protection of the Fifth Amendment, Wyman charged DeGregory with contempt. Initially denied bail, DeGregory was sent to the Merrimack County Jail where he spent 2 weeks until he won release on bail.
Following a 1959 US Supreme Court decision upholding Wyman’s investigatory powers, DeGregory returned to court in 1960 and again refused to answer Wyman’s questions. Once again, he was sent to Merrimack County Jail, where Dr. Willard Uphaus was already serving time on a similar contempt charge. Released again on bail pending appeal, DeGregory’s case returned to the US Supreme Court and lost again.
When Wyman left office, it might have meant the end of DeGregory’s persecution, but Wyman’s successor, Richard Maynard, issued a new subpoena in 1964, seeking information about DeGregory’s historic political activities. Once again, his case reached the US Supreme Court which at last ruled in his favor, holding that he could not be questioned about alleged “subversive activities” committed before the state’s Subversive Activities Act was even in existence.
DeGregory spent his last year’s in St. Augustine, Florida, a neighbor to Willard Uphaus, and died there in 2009.
His story is told in the film, “Rights and Reds,” produced by John Gfroerer.