McCarthyism


After World War II, there became a widespread fear of Communism in the United States and led to the uprising of Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy's goal was too expose and prosecute those who believe in Communism. His campaign was known as McCarthyism.
Communism: governmental system where a single party controls all aspects of society. All in all, communism bans private ownership of property and business so that the goods and wealth produced in a community is equally shared by all.

Issue Of McCarthyism:
As Senator McCarthy began his mission too exile communism from the government and entertainment, people began to believe that his mission switched from protection of the people, to a witch hunt against innocent people.


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McCarthy "Tail Gunner"

Pre-Senate Years:
Joseph R. McCarthy was born on November 14, 1908 in Appleton, Wisconsin. He began his life working on his families farm. His father was a strict disciplinarian and wanted to his son to take over the family farm. However, his mother saw her son to be different with a strength of character and influenced him to become "somebody". Even though McCarthy dropped out of school to work on the farm, he later returned at the age of 20 to finish high school and after attend Marquette University. McCarthy graduated from Marquette in 1935 having studied law. McCarthy became a republican and successfully ran for a circuit judgeship in Wisconsin's tenth district. However, World War II halted McCarthy's political career and he joined the Marine Corps where he had a desk assignment as a intelligence officer, riding in the tail gunner section of an aircraft, which he later used in campaigns.

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McCarthy "Wheeling Speech"

Senate Years:
In 1944, McCarthy ran for Senate again incumbent U.S Sentaor Alexander Wiley (1884-1967) in the Republican Primary. McCarthy was unsuccessful in this election, as he was on a 30 day leave from the War. After World War II, McCarthy successfully ran for Senate against a popular incumbent, Senator Robert M. La Fol
lette Jr (1895-1953). McCarthy began the new U.S Senator from Wisconsin in January 1947. By the end of 1949, McCarthy's popularity as Senator has decreased and he needed a way to win voters. His reputation in the Senate was that he was a troublemaker. He made many enemies with his arrogant and rude behavior. Friends of McCarthy suggested that he take on the anti-communistic campaign to win popularity. He launched his campaign on February 9, 1950 during his Wheeling Speech in Wheeling, West Virgina. "I have here in my hand a list of 205 (names) that were 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" Two days after the Wheeling Speech, McCarthy sent a telegram to President Harry S. Truman (1945-53) stating his allegations against the Communist Party and lowering his accused number from 205 to 57. On February 20, McCarthy made a two-hour speech, no
w referring to 81 people in the State Department, who had been a follower of Communism.

McCarthy Telegram to President Truman:
  • "In the Lincoln Day speech at Wheeling Thursday night I stated that the State Department harbors a nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers who are helping to shape our foreign policy. I further stated that I have in my possession the names of 57 Communists who are in the State Department at present. A State Department spokesman promptly denied this, claiming that there is not a single Communist in the Department. You can convince yourself of the falsity of the State Department claim very easily. "
  • "While the records are not available to me, I know absolutely of one group of approximately 300 certified to the Secretary for discharge because of communism. He actually only discharged approximately 80. I understand that this was done after lengthy consultation with the now-convicted traitor, Alger Hiss. I would suggest, therefore, Mr. President, that you simply pick up your phone and ask Mr. [Secretary of State Dean] Acheson how many of those whom your board had labeled as dangerous Communists he failed to discharge."
  • Despite this State Department black-out, we have been able to compile a list of 57 Communists in the State Department. This list is available to you but you can get a much longer list by ordering Secretary Acheson to give you a list of those whom your own board listed as being disloyal and who are still working in the State Department. I believe the following is the minimum which can be expected of you in this case.
    (1) That you demand that Acheson give you and the proper congressional committee the names and a complete report on all of those who were placed in the Department by Alger Hiss, and all of those still working in the State Department who were listed by your board as bad security risks because of their communistic connections.
    (2) That you promptly revoke the order in which you provided under no circumstances could a congressional committee obtain any information or help in exposing Communists.
    Failure on your part will label the Democratic Party of being the bedfellow of international communism. Certainly this label is not deserved by the hundreds of thousands of loyal American Democrats throughout the nation, and by the sizable number of able loyal Democrats in both the Senate and the House.
    Joe McCarthy U.S.S. Wis.
President Truman's Response - (said to have been unsent)
My dear Senator:
I read your telegram of February eleventh from Reno, Nevada with a great deal of interest and this is the first time in my experience, and I was ten years in the Senate, that I ever heard of a Senator trying to discredit his own Government before the world. You know that isn't done by honest public officials. Your telegram is not only not true and an insolent approach to a situation that should have been worked out between man and man but it shows conclusively that you are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States.
I am very sure that people of Wisconsin are extremely sorry that they are represented by a person who has as little sense of responsibility as you have.
Sincerely yours,
[(signed) HST]
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Red Scare Propaganda

McCarthyism:
McCarthyism went down in history as a "hoax" or a "witch hunt" because the strategy used was to attack and punish. McCarthy never once presented real evidence to those who were being accused of Communism, his job was the evidence and accusations against them, which could have been as simple as a neighbor didn't like someone, and labeled them a Communist. However, so many Americans were so drawn to the fact of Communism and people feared it spreading, which is know as the Red Scare. McCarthy created the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to investigate everyone who McCarthy felt suspicious, including lower and higher level government officials. In 1952, Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President. In an effort to eliminate popularity of McCarthyism, McCarthy himself was assigned by Eisenhower to a government Committee known as Government Operations Committee. However, McCarthy turned around and did the opposite; He created and became chairman of the of Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations and he continued to attack and accuse members of the State Department. McCarthy and his new committee that was now known as the "McCarthy Committee", charged the Communists within the State Department with influencing the Radio, which broadcasts Democratic messages too over eighty foreign countries. The department did not survive all the accusations. The McCarthy Committee attacked the libraries, demanding them to remove all books that involved or supported Communism. The Committee also continued to indiscreetly attack President Eisenhower. However, Eisenhower wanted to avoid a public confrontation with McCarthy. The Committee tried to attack the CIA and was stopped. The end of McCarthyism began when the Committee pushed their limit and attacked the U.S Army. McCarthy claimed that the U.S Army's base at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey was harboring a Communist spy ring. No evidence was found to prove the charges and the army's lawyer, Joseph N. Welch was able to bring McCarthy's stream of attacks to an end with the famous quote: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" McCarthy's unconstitutional tactics were brought to the public eye, during hearings known as the Army-McCarthy hearings. The Senate voted and reprimanded McCarthy due to his behavior between the years of 1950-1954 which were seen as "highly dishonorable". Although he remained in the Senate, he was ignored by colleagues and began to drink heavily untill his death on May 2, 1957 from an inflamed liver.

McCarthy's Legacy
McCarthyism has gone down in history as a negative and dark era of American History. Innocent people were charged guilty too Communistic acts that were never proven true with evidence and in today's society, the word has negative connotations. Although the reputation of McCarthyism is negative, on July 11, 1995, the U.S Government released a "batch of decoded intercepts from the 1940's" that were part of a secret U.S Intelligence Mission known as the Venona Project. This release revived the anti-communistic debate and proved that Senator Joseph McCarthy was in fact right about the threats posted by Communism. "The declassification and release of the Venona Papers...have really offered to the general public what was known to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and security officials for decades: that the stories about Soviet spies in the federal government and Soviet espionage networks, secretly supported by the American Communist Party, weren't paranoid delusions but were true," says Arthur Herman, a McCarthy biographer. "In that sense, McCarthy's hunt for communists in government was not a 'witch hunt'—there really were witches out there."
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Work Cited
Website: Ventura, Albert. "McCarthyism." Issues and Controversies. Facts of File News, 22/03/2006. Web. 26 Apr 2011. <http://www.2facts.com/icah_story.aspx?PIN=haa00001230&term=McCarthyism>.

Book: Hanes, Sharon. "Joseph R. McCarthy." Cold War Biographies. K-Z. 2. Farmington Hills: Thompson Gale, Print.

Website: "Wheeling Speech by Senator McCarthy on Communists in the State Department (Excerpts) (primary document)." Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://www.2facts.com/article/had00000171>.

Website: Telegram from Senator McCarthy to President Truman Regarding Communists in the State Department, and Draft of Truman's Response (primary document)." Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. <http://www.2facts.com/article/had00000170>.

Website: Timeline: McCarthyism (sidebar)." Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services, 22 Mar. 2006. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. <http://www.2facts.com/article/has00001232>.

Website: "Venona Papers and the Current Debate over McCarthyism (sidebar)." Issues & Controversies in American History. Facts On File News Services, 22 Mar. 2006. Web. 2 May 2011. <http://www.2facts.com/article/has00001233>.