Presentation on theme: "McCarthyism & The Crucible. The Red Scare (1947-57) Joseph R. McCarthy, U.S. senator from Wisconsin from 1946 to his death in 1957, burst on the public."— Presentation transcript:
The Red Scare (1947-57) Joseph R. McCarthy, U.S. senator from Wisconsin from 1946 to his death in 1957, burst on the public scene in February 1950 with his claim that Communists had infiltrated the Department of State. Even though his accusations were never proved, during the next three years, McCarthy charged many government officials, members of the media, and other prominent figures with engaging in subversive activities and having Communist sympathies. The “witch hunt” climaxed in April 1954, when McCarthy accused the secretary of the navy of sheltering Communist spies. The secretary mounted a vigorous and effective defense, which exposed McCarthy’s ruthless tactics and questionable motives. As a result, McCarthy was censured by the Senate and his influence declined.
McCarthyism McCarthyism is the political action of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term specifically describes activities associated with the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by heightened fears of communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents.
What happened to them: People who refused to cooperate with questioning were blacklisted. Blacklisting meant that their professional reputation was ruined and no one would hire them in case they too were accused. Suspected communists were asked to confess and identify other “Red” sympathisers. Many people tried to save themselves through false confessions This created the idea that America was overrun with communists and increased the hysteria.
“Witch Hunts” McCarthyism came to be known as a witch hunt. This can be explained as a hysterical search for people who stand for ideas that are not mainstream, usually out of fear or moral panic, often without concrete evidence or fair trials.
“Enemies from Within”: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s Accusations of Disloyalty Wisconsin Republican Joseph R. McCarthy first won election to the Senate in 1946 during a campaign marked by much anticommunist Red-baiting. Partially in response to Republican Party victories, President Harry S. Truman tried to demonstrate his own concern about the threat of Communism by setting up a loyalty program for federal employees. He also asked the Justice Department to compile an official list of 78 subversive organizations. As the midterm election year got underway, former State Department official Alger Hiss, suspected of espionage, was convicted of perjury. McCarthy, in a speech at Wheeling, West Virginia, mounted an attack on Truman’s foreign policy agenda by charging that the State Department and its Secretary, Dean Acheson, harbored “traitorous” Communists. There is some dispute about the number of Communists McCarthy claimed to have known about. Though advance copies of this speech distributed to the press record the number as 205, McCarthy quickly revised this claim. Both in a letter he wrote to President Truman the next day and in an “official” transcript of the speech that McCarthy submitted to the Congressional Record ten days later he uses the number 57. Although McCarthy displayed this list of names both in Wheeling and then later on the Senate floor, he never made the list public.
Discuss: How does President Truman’s response sound? Who do you agree with? Why?
Senator Margaret Chase Smith – “Declaration of Conscience” McCarthy’s Attack on “Individual Freedom” The anticommunist crusader Senator Joseph McCarthy stepped into national prominence on February 9, 1950, when he mounted an attack on President Truman’s foreign policy agenda. McCarthy charged that the State Department and its Secretary, Dean Acheson, harbored “traitorous” Communists. McCarthy’s apocalyptic rhetoric—he portrayed the Cold War conflict as “a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity”—made critics hesitate before challenging him. His purported lists of Communist conspirators multiplied in subsequent years to include employees in government agencies, the broadcasting and defense industries, universities, the United Nations, and the military. Most of those accused were helpless to defend their ruined reputations and faced loss of employment, damaged careers, and in many cases, broken lives. In protest, Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith composed the following “Declaration of Conscience,” condemning the atmosphere of suspicion and blaming leaders of both parties for their “lack of effective leadership.” Although Smith convinced six additional Republican Senators to join her in the Declaration, the seven refused to support a Senate report prepared by Democrats that called McCarthy’s charges against State Department personnel fraudulent.