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Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism The Beginnings of the Cold War.

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1 Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism The Beginnings of the Cold War

2 For your consideration and reflection Please write about the following questions: bring your responses to class tomorrow and be prepared to discuss at the beginning of the hour: What are the origins of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry? Where do the feelings of mutual distrust, fear and suspicion originate from? How do wartime allies become post-war enemies?

3 Background of Joe McCarthy In 1950, Joseph McCarthy was a little known Senator from Wisconsin Found political power and a way to promote his own political career through anticommunism On Feb. 12, 1950, McCarthy gives a speech in West Virginia where he held up a list of 205 members of the Communist Party that were working and shaping policy in the State Department


5 McCarthy said that the country faced a threat from “a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man”. McCarthy is reelected as Senator and worked for the next four years to root out the communist menace he said existed in government, entertainment industry and education.


7 A member of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) An endless parade of suspected “Communists” were called to testify before the committee, each was asked “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” If a witness refused to testify, they were called “Fifth Amendment Communists”, others simply guilty by association.

8 McCarthy’s favorite targets were writers, actors and producers McCarthy’s recognition of anticommunism as a political tool was not lost on other political figures- the Democratic Party’s association with liberal causes and reform politics made it vulnerable to being charged with being “soft on communism”. In 1946, the Republican Party proclaimed that Americans had the choice between communism and Republicanism.


10 Anticommunists claimed that there were not only “Reds” but “Pinks”, those who would slowly lead the country to communism. FDR and the New Deal were cast in the “Pinks” light and McCarthy said that “20 years of treason” had been committed. Conservatism and anti-Communist vigilance were the only protection against “creeping Socialism”

11 The early years of the Cold War provided a perfect stage for McCarthy dominated by anti- communist fears and tensions. In 1949, China (and 1/5 of the world’s population became a Communist state. Fear of spies and the actual revealing that information was being passed to the Soviet Union. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted and executed in 1953 for treason based on spy activity.


13 Hysteria and paranoia of Communism and McCarthyism permeated American society and culture during much of the 1950’s. In 1954, the Congress passed the Communism Control Act. Supported by both Democrats and Republicans, made membership in the Communist party illegal. 6 concentration camps were built around the country to house suspected Communist sympathizers in the event of all-out war with the Soviet Union.



16 Despite all the hysteria, McCarthy never proved his conspiracy charges. Not a single conspirator was found. His support waned as his accusations proved to be empty. McCarthy finally reached too far when he attacked the U.S. Army for sheltering communists. McCarthy shouted to a general: “You are a disgrace to the uniform. You’re shielding communist conspirators…You’re not fit to be an officer. You’re ignorant”.

17 The End of McCarthy Finally after disgracing generals, congressmen and even President Eisenhower, the senate passed a vote of censure against McCarthy in 1954. He died of liver failure three years later.



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