Allie M. Radintz

Key Questions...

As McCarthy conducted his Anti-Communist investigations, what were his intentions, and what evidence did he
have to support his charges? Why did the Senate fail to censure McCarthy before 1954?
How was McCarthy stopped?

external image 4726-Joseph%20McCarthy_Biography.jpg

~Senator Joeseph McCarthy~

America and the fear of Communism has a a long history. From World War One, World War Two, the Red Scares, and through the Cold War, United States citizens have feared becoming a Communistic government. The 1950’s and the Cold War was a time of heightened fear. Some American politicians would use this for their own good and to gain power. Since 1951, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy had been one of America’s premier anti-Communists. He was well known for slinging accusations of dishonor and treason at the Democratic party. In the election of 1952, a candidate could never be anti-Communist enough,and it was Senator McCarthy who did the labeling on who was and was not anti-Communist enough to be considered trustworthy by American voters. On February 9th of 1950, Senator McCarthy gave a speech to the citizens of Wheeling, West Virgina. In this speech he held up a piece of paper to the crowd and I boldly stated, "I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . " (qtd. www.historymatters.gmu). Later it would be recorded in the Congressional Quarterly that McCarthy quoted "I have here in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy..." (qtd. Voices... People pg. 209).

Senator McCarthy and a Speech on Democrats

The witch hunt had begun. McCarthy would be at the head of a movement which would become known as “McCarthyism”. McCarthy and his followers would begin to denounce the entire Democratic party as traitors. At one point McCarthy would state, “The issue between the Republicans and Democrats is clearly drawn. It has been deliberately drawn by those who have been in charge of twenty years of treason. The hard fact is -- the hard fact is that those who wear the label, those who wear the label Democrat wear it with the stain of a historic betrayal." (qtd. Though McCarthy would repeatedly place claims of Communism and treason on the opposing Democrats, he never would openly produce solid evidence against or names of the guilty. This would lead to McCarthy’s downfall. There would be people who would begin to see through McCarthy’s and the “McCarthyite’s” claims.

The “McCarthyists” most common characteristic was not class, religion, or race. It was rather political affiliation. McCarthy support was found most commonly within McCarthy’s own political party, the Republicans. Though McCarthyism focused largely on the issue of Communism, and grew on people’s fear of Communism, survey results showed different. In 1953, which was the height of the McCarthy era, people were asked a simple question. “What kinds of things do you worry about the most?”. When the results were listed, less than 1 percent stated that they feared the threat of Communism, and only 8 percent mentioned tangentially related to world issues (Griffith 55).
So what did feed McCarthy’s power and allow him to state bigotry on our own government, and why did our own government allow it?

McCarthy was a very intelligent politician. He was very careful of what he said, and to whom. This made it difficult for our government to censure the senator anytime before 1954. McCarthy never directly stated any names of congressmen in the Democratic party that he considered to be Communist in the public. This protected him from being accused of treason and bigotry.

Then in 1954 McCarthy made a mistake that would end his reign as the premier anti-Communist in the United States. In early 1954 McCarthy accused some of America's military authorities of shielding a disloyal army dentist at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. On February 18th, the senator made a call to General Ralph Zwicker to make a claim before his committee. During these proceedings Senator McCarthy exclaimed, "You are a disgrace to the uniform. You're shielding Communist conspirators..." (pg. 607 Fite & Graebner). President Eisenhower was unhappy about McCarthy's sharp accusations, and he began to indirectly denounce the senator. McCarthy was not happy about this and he pressed the attack. The McCarthy-Army hearings were now underway. During the hearings the American people and the United States government began to see their Senator Joeseph McCarthy for who he truly was. He would be seen as an unscrupulous, arrogant, poorly-informed bully.

Sources for this page:

Boezi, Micheal. Voices of the American People. United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006
Fite, Gilbert C. and Graebner, Norman A. Recent United States History. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1972
Hoffman, Nicholas V. Citizen Cohn. New York: Doubleday, 1988
"Roy Cohn." Spartacus Educational. <>

Links on this page:

Joeseph McCarthy Biography. Digital image. Browse Biography. 2010. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. <>.

Joeseph McCarthy on Democrats. By Guyjohn59. Perf. Joeseph McCarthy. 2009. YouTube. <>