The McCarthy hearings, which sought to root out communists in the U.S. government during the early 1950s, inspired Arthur Miller to write "The Crucible." Although the play's setting is the 17th-century Salem witch trials, Miller equated the fear, hysteria and danger of the witch hunt with the hearings.
When an earlier Miller play, "Death of a Salesman," was about to be released as a film by Columbia Pictures, some of the company's executives considered it anti-capitalist. They requested that Miller sign an anti-communist declaration, but he declined. The McCarthy hearings were not limited to governmental investigations. They also looked into the entertainment field, and many artists were subpoenaed. Miller was called to testify in 1956. He appeared but would not cooperate by identifying attendees at a conference organized by socialists. Miller was then charged with contempt of Congress.