McCarthyism
Overview
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in 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
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 U.S. Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 of Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, "McCarthyism" soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts.
Encyclopedia
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in 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
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 U.S. Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 of Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, "McCarthyism" soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic
Demagogy
Demagogy or demagoguery is a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears, vanities and expectations of the public—typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist, populist or religious themes...

 attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.

During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned, laws that would be declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

, or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.

The most famous examples of McCarthyism include the speeches, investigations, and hearings of Senator McCarthy himself; the Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

, associated with hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

 (HUAC); and the various anti-communist activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 (FBI) under Director J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

. McCarthyism was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States.

Origins

The historical period that came to be known as the McCarthy era began well before Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

's own involvement in it. Many factors contributed to McCarthyism, some of them extending back to the years of the First Red Scare
First Red Scare
In American history, the First Red Scare of 1919–1920 was marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism. Concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and alleged spread in the American labor movement fueled the paranoia that defined the period.The First Red...

 (1917–20), inspired by Communism's emergence as a recognized political force. Thanks in part to its success in organizing labor unions and its early opposition to fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

, the Communist Party of the United States
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 (CPUSA) increased its membership through the 1930s, reaching a peak of about 75,000 members in 1940–41. While the United States was engaged in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and allied with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the issue of anti-communism was largely muted. With the end of World War II, the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 began almost immediately, as the Soviet Union installed repressive Communist puppet régimes across Central and Eastern Europe.

Although the Igor Gouzenko
Igor Gouzenko
Igor Sergeyevich Gouzenko was a cipher clerk for the Soviet Embassy to Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. He defected on September 5, 1945, with 109 documents on Soviet espionage activities in the West...

 and Elizabeth Bentley
Elizabeth Bentley
Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was an American spy for the Soviet Union from 1938 until 1945. In 1945 she defected from the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence and became an informer for the U.S. She exposed two networks of spies, ultimately naming over 80 Americans who had engaged in espionage for...

 affairs had raised the issue of Soviet espionage as far back as 1945, events in 1949 and 1950 sharply increased the sense of threat from Communism in the United States. The Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb
Soviet atomic bomb project
The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

 in 1949, earlier than many analysts had expected. That same year, Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

's Communist army gained control of mainland China despite heavy American financial support of the opposing Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

. In 1950, the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 began, pitting U.S., U.N., and South Korean forces against Communists from North Korea and China. The following year also saw several significant developments regarding Soviet Cold War espionage activities. In January 1950, Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss was an American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and U.N. official...

, a high-level State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 official, was convicted of perjury. Hiss was in effect found guilty of espionage; the statute of limitations had run out for that crime, but he was convicted of having perjured himself when he denied that charge in earlier testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

. In the United Kingdom, Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs was a German theoretical physicist and atomic spy who in 1950 was convicted of supplying information from the American, British and Canadian atomic bomb research to the USSR during and shortly after World War II...

 confessed to committing espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union while working on the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

 during the War. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg and Julius Rosenberg were American communists who were convicted and executed in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage during a time of war. The charges related to their passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union...

 were arrested in 1950 on charges of stealing atomic bomb secrets for the Soviets and were executed in 1953.

There were also more subtle forces encouraging the rise of McCarthyism. It had long been a practice of more conservative politicians to refer to liberal reforms such as child labor laws
Child labor laws in the United States
Child labor laws in the United States include numerous statutes and rules regulating the employment of minors. According to the United States Department of Labor, child labor laws affect those under the age of 18 in a variety of occupations....

 and women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 as "Communist" or "Red plots." This tendency increased in the 1930s in reaction to the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. Many conservatives equated the New Deal with socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 or Communism, and saw its policies as evidence that the government had been heavily influenced by Communist policy-makers in the Roosevelt administration. In general, the vaguely defined danger of "Communist influence" was a more common theme in the rhetoric of anti-Communist politicians than was espionage or any other specific activity.

Joseph McCarthy's involvement with the ongoing cultural phenomenon that would bear his name began with a speech he made on Lincoln Day
Lincoln Day
Lincoln Day is the primary annual celebration and fundraising event of many state and county organizations of the Republican Party in the United States...

, February 9, 1950, to the Republican Women's Club of Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia; it is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area...

. He produced a piece of paper which he claimed contained a list of known Communists working for the State Department. McCarthy is usually quoted as saying: "I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department." This speech resulted in a flood of press attention to McCarthy and established the path that made him one of the most recognized politicians in the United States.

The first recorded use of the term McCarthyism was in a political cartoon by Washington Post editorial cartoonist Herbert Block (aka Herblock), published on March 29, 1950. The cartoon depicted four leading Republicans trying to push an elephant (the traditional symbol of the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

) to stand on a teetering stack of ten tar buckets, the topmost of which was labeled "McCarthyism". Block later wrote that there was "nothing particularly ingenious about the term, which is simply used to represent a national affliction that can hardly be described in any other way. If anyone has a prior claim on it, he's welcome to the word and to the junior senator from Wisconsin along with it. I will also throw in a set of free dishes and a case of soap.”

Institutions

There were many anti-Communist committees, panels, and "loyalty review boards" in federal, state, and local governments, as well as many private agencies that carried out investigations for small and large companies concerned about possible Communists in their work force.

In Congress, the primary bodies that investigated Communist activities were the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee
United States Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security
The Special Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, 1951-77, more commonly known as the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and sometimes the McCarran Committee, was authorized under S...

, and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Between 1949 and 1954, a total of 109 investigations were carried out by these and other committees of Congress.

Loyalty-security reviews

In the federal government, President Harry Truman's Executive Order 9835
Executive Order 9835
President Harry S. Truman signed United States Executive Order 9835, sometimes known as the "Loyalty Order", on March 21, 1947. The order established the first general loyalty program in the United States, designed to root out communist influence in the U.S. federal government...

 initiated a program of loyalty reviews for federal employees in 1947. It called for dismissal if there were "reasonable grounds...for belief that the person involved is disloyal to the Government of the United States." Truman, a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, was probably reacting in part to the Republican sweep in the 1946 Congressional election
United States House election, 1946
Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 80th United States Congress took place in 1946. These midterm elections occurred in the middle of President Harry S. Truman's first term....

 and felt a need to counter growing criticism from conservatives and anti-communists.

When President Dwight Eisenhower took office in 1953, he strengthened and extended Truman's loyalty review program, while decreasing the avenues of appeal available to dismissed employees. Hiram Bingham
Hiram Bingham III
Hiram Bingham, formally Hiram Bingham III, was an academic, explorer, treasure hunter and politician from the United States. He made public the existence of the Quechua citadel of Machu Picchu in 1911 with the guidance of local indigenous farmers...

, Chairman of the Civil Service Commission Loyalty Review Board, referred to the new rules he was obliged to enforce as "just not the American way of doing things." The following year, J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 that built the first atomic bomb, then working as a consultant to the Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

, was stripped of his security clearance after a four-week hearing
Oppenheimer security hearing
The Oppenheimer security hearing was a 1954 inquiry by the United States Atomic Energy Commission into the background, actions and associations of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist who had headed the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb for the United States during World War...

. Oppenheimer had received a top-secret clearance in 1947, but was denied clearance in the harsher climate of 1954.

Similar loyalty reviews were established in many state and local government offices and some private industries across the nation. In 1958 it was estimated that roughly one out of every five employees in the United States was required to pass some sort of loyalty review. Once a person lost a job due to an unfavorable loyalty review, it could be very difficult to find other employment. "A man is ruined everywhere and forever," in the words of the chairman of President Truman's Loyalty Review Board. "No responsible employer would be likely to take a chance in giving him a job."

The Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 started keeping a list of organizations that it deemed subversive beginning in 1942. This list was first made public in 1948, when it included 78 items. At its longest, it comprised 154 organizations, 110 of them identified as Communist. In the context of a loyalty review, membership in a listed organization was meant to raise a question, but not to be considered proof of disloyalty. One of the most common causes of suspicion was membership in the Washington Bookshop Association, a left-leaning organization that offered lectures on literature, classical music concerts and discounts on books.

J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI

In Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, historian Ellen Schrecker
Ellen Schrecker
Ellen Wolf Schrecker, Ph.D. is a professor of American history at Yeshiva University. She is currently teaching and has received the Frederick Ewen Academic Freedom Fellowship at the Tamiment Library at NYU....

 calls the FBI "the single most important component of the anti-communist crusade" and writes: "Had observers known in the 1950s what they have learned since the 1970s, when the Freedom of Information Act opened the Bureau's files, 'McCarthyism' would probably be called 'Hooverism'." FBI director J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

 was one of the nation's most fervent anti-communists, and one of the most powerful.

Hoover designed President Truman's loyalty-security program, and its background investigations of employees were carried out by FBI agents. This was a major assignment that led to the number of agents in the Bureau being increased from 3,559 in 1946 to 7,029 in 1952. Hoover's extreme sense of the Communist threat and the politically conservative standards of evidence applied by his bureau resulted in thousands of government workers losing their jobs. Due to Hoover's insistence upon keeping the identity of his informers secret, most subjects of loyalty-security reviews were not allowed to cross-examine or know the identities of those who accused them. In many cases they were not even told what they were accused of.

Hoover's influence extended beyond federal government employees and beyond the loyalty-security programs. The records of loyalty review hearings and investigations were supposed to be confidential, but Hoover routinely gave evidence from them to congressional committees such as HUAC.

From 1951 to 1955, the FBI operated a secret "Responsibilities Program" that distributed anonymous documents with evidence from FBI files of Communist affiliations on the part of teachers, lawyers, and others. Many people accused in these "blind memoranda" were fired without any further process.

The FBI engaged in a number of illegal practices in its pursuit of information on Communists, including burglaries, opening mail and illegal wiretaps. The members of the left-wing National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild
The National Lawyers Guild is an advocacy group in the United States "dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system . ....

 were among the few attorneys who were willing to defend clients in communist-related cases, and this made the NLG a particular target of Hoover's. The office of this organization was burgled by the FBI at least fourteen times between 1947 and 1951.

Among other purposes, the FBI used its illegally obtained information to alert prosecuting attorneys about the planned legal strategies of NLG defense lawyers.

The FBI also used illegal undercover operations to disrupt Communist and other dissident political groups. In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court decisions that limited the Justice Department's ability to prosecute Communists. At this time he formalized a covert "dirty tricks" program under the name COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...

. COINTELPRO actions included planting forged documents to create the suspicion that a key person was an FBI informer, spreading rumors through anonymous letters, leaking information to the press, calling for IRS
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

 audits, and the like. The COINTELPRO program remained in operation until 1971.

House Committee on Un-American Activities

The House Committee on Un-American Activities - commonly referred to as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) - was the most prominent and active government committee involved in anti-Communist investigations. Formed in 1938 and known as the Dies Committee for Rep. Martin Dies
Martin Dies, Jr.
Martin Dies, Jr. was a Texas politician and a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives. His father, Martin Dies, was also a member of the United States House of Representatives.-Biography:...

, who chaired it until 1944, HUAC investigated a variety of "activities," including those of German-American Nazis during World War II. The Committee soon focused on Communism, beginning with an investigation into Communists in the Federal Theatre Project
Federal Theatre Project
The Federal Theatre Project was a New Deal project to fund theatre and other live artistic performances in the United States during the Great Depression. It was one of five Federal One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration...

 in 1938. A significant step for HUAC was its investigation of the charges of espionage brought against Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss was an American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and U.N. official...

 in 1948. This investigation ultimately resulted in Hiss's trial and conviction for perjury, and convinced many of the usefulness of congressional committees for uncovering Communist subversion.

HUAC achieved its greatest fame and notoriety with its investigation into the Hollywood film industry
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

. In October 1947, the Committee began to subpoena screenwriters, directors, and other movie industry professionals to testify about their known or suspected membership in the Communist Party, association with its members, or support of its beliefs. It was at these testimonies that what became known as the "$64 question" was asked: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?" Among the first film industry witnesses subpoenaed by the Committee were ten who decided not to cooperate. These men, who became known as the "Hollywood Ten", cited the First Amendment's
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 guarantee of free speech and free assembly, which they believed legally protected them from being required to answer the Committee's questions. This tactic failed, and the ten were sentenced to prison for contempt of Congress
Contempt of Congress
Contempt of Congress is the act of obstructing the work of the United States Congress or one of its committees. Historically the bribery of a senator or representative was considered contempt of Congress...

. Two of the ten were sentenced to six months, the rest to a year.

In the future, witnesses (in the entertainment industries and otherwise) who were determined not to cooperate with the Committee would claim their Fifth Amendment
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

 protection against self-incrimination. While this usually protected them from a contempt of Congress citation, it was considered grounds for dismissal by many government and private industry employers. The legal requirements for Fifth Amendment protection were such that a person could not testify about his own association with the Communist Party and then refuse to "name names" of colleagues with Communist affiliations. Thus many faced a choice between "crawl[ing] through the mud to be an informer," as actor Larry Parks
Larry Parks
Larry Parks was an American stage and movie actor. He was born Samuel Klausman Lawrence Parks. His career was virtually ended when he admitted to having once been a member of a Communist party cell, which led to his blacklisting by all Hollywood studios.-Background:Parks grew up in Joliet,...

 put it, or becoming known as a "Fifth Amendment Communist"—an epithet often used by Senator McCarthy.

Senate committees

In the Senate, the primary committee for investigating Communists was the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee
United States Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security
The Special Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, 1951-77, more commonly known as the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and sometimes the McCarran Committee, was authorized under S...

 (SISS), formed in 1950 and charged with ensuring the enforcement of laws relating to "espionage, sabotage, and the protection of the internal security of the United States." The SISS was headed by Democrat Pat McCarran
Pat McCarran
Patrick Anthony McCarran was a Democratic United States Senator from Nevada from 1933 until 1954, and was noted for his strong anti-Communist stance.-Early life and career:...

 and gained a reputation for careful and extensive investigations. This committee spent a year investigating Owen Lattimore
Owen Lattimore
Owen Lattimore was an American author, educator, and influential scholar of Central Asia, especially Mongolia. In the 1930s he was editor of Pacific Affairs, a journal published by the Institute of Pacific Relations, and then taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1938 to 1963...

 and other members of the Institute of Pacific Relations
Institute of Pacific Relations
The Institute of Pacific Relations was an international NGO established in 1925 to provide a forum for discussion of problems and relations between nations of the Pacific Rim. The International Secretariat, the center of most IPR activity over the years, consisted of professional staff members who...

. As had been done numerous times before, the collection of scholars and diplomats associated with Lattimore (the so-called China Hands
China Hands
The term China Hand originally referred to 19th-century merchants in the treaty ports of China, but evolved to reflect anyone with expert knowledge of the language, culture, and people of China...

) were accused of "losing China," and while some evidence of pro-communist attitudes was found, there was nothing to support McCarran's accusation that Lattimore was "a conscious and articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy". Lattimore was charged with perjuring himself before the SISS in 1952. After many of the charges were rejected by a Federal Judge and one of the witnesses confessed to perjury, the case was dropped in 1955.

Joseph McCarthy himself headed the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953 and 1954, and during that time used it for a number of his Communist-hunting investigations. McCarthy first examined allegations of Communist influence in the Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

, and then turned to the overseas library program of the State Department. Card catalogs of these libraries were searched for works by authors McCarthy deemed inappropriate. McCarthy then recited the list of supposedly pro-communist authors before his subcommittee and the press. Yielding to the pressure, the State Department ordered its overseas librarians to remove from their shelves "material by any controversial persons, Communists, fellow travelers, etc." Some libraries actually burned the newly forbidden books.

McCarthy's committee then began an investigation into the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. This began at the Army Signal Corps
United States Army Signal Corps
The United States Army Signal Corps develops, tests, provides, and manages communications and information systems support for the command and control of combined arms forces. It was established in 1860, the brainchild of United States Army Major Albert J. Myer, and has had an important role from...

 laboratory at Fort Monmouth
Fort Monmouth
Fort Monmouth was an installation of the Department of the Army in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The post is surrounded by the communities of Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport, New Jersey, and is located about 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. The post covers nearly of land, from the Shrewsbury...

. McCarthy garnered some headlines with stories of a dangerous spy ring among the Army researchers, but ultimately nothing came of this investigation. McCarthy next turned his attention to the case of a U.S. Army dentist who had been promoted to the rank of major despite having refused to answer questions on an Army loyalty review form. McCarthy's handling of this investigation, including a series of insults directed at a brigadier general
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

, led to the Army-McCarthy hearings
Army-McCarthy Hearings
The Army–McCarthy hearings were a series of hearings held by the United States Senate's Subcommittee on Investigations between April 1954 and June 1954. The hearings were held for the purpose of investigating conflicting accusations between the United States Army and Senator Joseph McCarthy...

, with the Army and McCarthy trading charges and counter-charges for 36 days before a nationwide television audience. While the official outcome of the hearings was inconclusive, this exposure of McCarthy to the American public resulted in a sharp decline in his popularity. In less than a year, McCarthy was censured by the Senate and his position as a prominent force in anti-communism was essentially ended.

Blacklists

On November 25, 1947 (the day after the House of Representatives approved citations of contempt for the Hollywood Ten), Eric Johnston
Eric Johnston
Eric Allen Johnston was a business owner, president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, a Republican Party activist, president of the Motion Picture Association of America , and a U.S. government special projects administrator and envoy for both Democratic and Republican administrations...

, President of the Motion Picture Association of America
Motion Picture Association of America
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. , originally the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America , was founded in 1922 and is designed to advance the business interests of its members...

, issued a press release on behalf of the heads of the major studios that came to be referred to as the Waldorf Statement
Waldorf Statement
The Waldorf Statement was a two-page press release issued on December 3, 1947, by Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, following a closed-door meeting by forty-eight motion picture company executives at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel...

. This statement announced the firing of the Hollywood Ten and stated: "We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States[...]" This open capitulation to the attitudes of McCarthyism marked the beginning of the Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

. In spite of the fact that hundreds would be denied employment, the studios, producers and other employers did not publicly admit that a blacklist existed.

At this time, private loyalty-review boards and anti-communist investigators began to appear to fill a growing demand among certain industries to certify that their employees were above reproach. Companies that were concerned about the sensitivity of their business, or who, like the entertainment industry, felt particularly vulnerable to public opinion made use of these private services. For a fee, these teams would investigate employees and question them about their politics and affiliations. At such hearings, the subject would usually not have a right to the presence of an attorney, and as with HUAC, the interviewee might be asked to defend himself against accusations without being allowed to cross-examine the accuser. These agencies would keep cross-referenced lists of leftist organizations, publications, rallies, charities and the like, as well as lists of individuals who were known or suspected communists. Books such as Red Channels
Red Channels
Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television is an anti-Communist tract published in the United States at the height of the Red Scare...

and newsletters such as Counterattack and Confidential Information were published to keep track of communist and leftist organizations and individuals. Insofar as the various blacklists of McCarthyism were actual physical lists, they were created and maintained by these private organizations.

Laws and arrests

Efforts to protect the United States from the perceived threat of Communist subversion were particularly enabled by several federal laws. The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act
Smith Act
The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act of 1940 is a United States federal statute that set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S...

 of 1940 made it a criminal offense for anyone to "knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the [...] desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association". Hundreds of Communists and others were prosecuted under this law between 1941 and 1957. Eleven leaders of the Communist Party were charged and convicted under the Smith Act in 1949. Ten defendants were given sentences of five years and the eleventh was sentenced to three years. All of the defense attorneys were cited for contempt of court
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

 and were also given prison sentences. In 1951, twenty-three other leaders of the party were indicted, including Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a labor leader, activist, and feminist who played a leading role in the Industrial Workers of the World . Flynn was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and a visible proponent of women's rights, birth control, and women's suffrage...

, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

; many were convicted on the basis of testimony that was later admitted to be false. By 1957, 140 leaders and members of the Communist Party had been charged under the law, with 93 being convicted.

The McCarran Internal Security Act
McCarran Internal Security Act
The Internal Security Act of 1950, , also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act or the McCarran Act, after Senator Pat McCarran , is a United States federal law of the McCarthy era. It was passed over President Harry Truman's veto...

, which became law in 1950, has been described by scholar Ellen Schrecker as "the McCarthy era's only important piece of legislation" (the Smith Act technically predated McCarthyism). However, the McCarran Act had no real effect beyond legal harassment. It required the registration of Communist organizations with the U.S. Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 and established the Subversive Activities Control Board
Subversive Activities Control Board
The Subversive Activities Control Board was a United States government committee to investigate Communist infiltration of American society during the 1950s Red Scare....

 to investigate possible Communist-action and Communist-front organizations so they could be required to register. Due to numerous hearings, delays and appeals, the act was never enforced, even with regard to the Communist Party of the United States itself, and the major provisions of the act were found to be unconstitutional in 1965 and 1967. In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality, or McCarran-Walter, Act was passed. This law allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities and also to bar suspected subversives from entering the country.

The Communist Control Act of 1954
Communist Control Act of 1954
The Communist Control Act was a piece of United States federal legislation, signed into law by Dwight Eisenhower on 24 August 1954, which outlawed the Communist Party of the United States and criminalized membership in, or support for the Party.-Background:...

 was passed with overwhelming support in both houses of Congress after very little debate. Jointly drafted by Republican John Marshall Butler
John Marshall Butler
John Marshall Butler was a Republican member of the United States Senate, representing the State of Maryland from 1951-1963.-Early life:Butler was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended Baltimore public schools...

 and Democrat Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. , served under President Lyndon B. Johnson as the 38th Vice President of the United States. Humphrey twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota, and served as Democratic Majority Whip. He was a founder of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and...

, the law was an extension of the Internal Security Act of 1950, and sought to outlaw the Communist Party by declaring that the party, as well as "Communist-Infiltrated Organizations" were "not entitled to any of the rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies". The Communist Control Act never had any significant effect, and was perhaps most notable for the odd mix of liberals and conservatives among its supporters. It was successfully applied only twice: in 1954 it was used to prevent Communist Party members from appearing on the New Jersey state ballot, and in 1960 it was cited to deny the CPUSA recognition as an employer under New York State's unemployment compensation system. The New York Post called the act "a monstrosity", "a wretched repudiation of democratic principles," while The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

accused Democratic liberals of a "neurotic, election-year anxiety to escape the charge of being 'soft on Communism' even at the expense of sacrificing constitutional rights."

Popular support

McCarthyism was supported by a variety of groups, including the American Legion
American Legion
The American Legion is a mutual-aid organization of veterans of the United States armed forces chartered by the United States Congress. It was founded to benefit those veterans who served during a wartime period as defined by Congress...

 and various other anti-communist organizations. One core element of support was a variety of militantly anti-communist women's groups such as the American Public Relations Forum
American Public Relations Forum
The American Public Relations Forum was a conservative anti-communist organization for Catholic women, established in southern California in 1952 with its headquarters in Burbank...

 and the Minute Women of the U.S.A.
Minute Women of the U.S.A.
The Minute Women of the U.S.A. was one of the largest of a number of anti-communist women's groups that were active during the 1950s and early 1960s...

. These organized tens of thousands of housewives into study groups, letter-writing networks, and patriotic clubs that coordinated efforts to identify and eradicate what they saw as subversion.

Although far-right radicals were the bedrock of support for McCarthyism, they were not alone. A broad "coalition of the aggrieved" found McCarthyism attractive, or at least politically useful. Common themes uniting the coalition were opposition to internationalism, particularly the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

; opposition to social welfare provisions, particularly the various programs established by the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

; and opposition to efforts to reduce inequalities in the social structure of the United States
Social structure of the United States
Social class is a controversial issue in the United States, having many competing definitions, models, and even disagreements over its very existence. Many Americans believe in a simple three-class model that includes the "rich", the "middle class", and the "poor"...

.

One focus of popular McCarthyism concerned the provision of public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

 services, particularly vaccination
Vaccination
Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate the immune system of an individual to develop adaptive immunity to a disease. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by many pathogens...

, mental health
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

 care services and fluoridation, all of which were deemed by some to be communist plots to poison or brainwash the American people. Oftentimes, the anti-internationalist aspect of McCarthyist literature took on an anti-Jewish tone. (See flier at right: Rabbi Spitz in the American Hebrew, March 1, 1946: "American Jews
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

 must come to grips with our contemporary anti-Semites; we must fill our insane asylums with anti-Semitic lunatics."
) Such viewpoints led to major collisions between McCarthyite radicals and supporters of public health programs, most notably in the case of the Alaska Mental Health Bill
Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act
The Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act of 1956 was an Act of Congress passed to improve mental health care in the United States territory of Alaska. It became the focus of a major political controversy after opponents nicknamed it the "Siberia Bill" and denounced it as being part of a communist...

 controversy of 1956.

William F. Buckley, Jr.
William F. Buckley, Jr.
William Frank Buckley, Jr. was an American conservative author and commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing was noted for...

, the founder of the influential conservative political magazine National Review
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

, wrote a defense of McCarthy, McCarthy and his Enemies, in which he asserted that "McCarthyism ... is a movement around which men of good will and stern morality can close ranks."

In addition, as Richard Rovere points out, many ordinary Americans became convinced that there must be "no smoke without fire" and lent their support to McCarthyism. In January 1954, a Gallup poll found that 50% of the American public supported McCarthy, while 29% had an unfavorable opinion of the senator. Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

, the Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

, commented that if the United States Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

 had been put to a vote it probably would have been defeated.

Portrayals of Communists

Those who sought to justify McCarthyism did so largely through their characterization of Communism, and American Communists in particular. Proponents of McCarthyism claimed that the CPUSA was so completely under Moscow's control that any American Communist was inevitably a puppet of the Soviet Union. As J. Edgar Hoover put it in a 1950 speech, "Communist members, body and soul, are the property of the Party." This attitude was not confined to arch-conservatives. In 1940, the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 ejected founding member Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a labor leader, activist, and feminist who played a leading role in the Industrial Workers of the World . Flynn was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and a visible proponent of women's rights, birth control, and women's suffrage...

, saying that her membership in the Communist Party was enough to disqualify her as a civil libertarian. In the government's prosecutions of Communist Party members under the Smith Act (see above), the prosecution case was based not on specific actions or statements by the defendants, but on the premise that a commitment to violent overthrow of the government was inherent in the doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. Passages of the CPUSA's constitution that specifically rejected revolutionary violence were dismissed as deliberate deception.

In addition, it was often claimed that the Party did not allow any member to resign, so a person who had been a member for a short time decades previously could be considered as suspect as a current member. Many of the hearings and trials of McCarthyism featured testimony by former Communist Party members such as Elizabeth Bentley
Elizabeth Bentley
Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was an American spy for the Soviet Union from 1938 until 1945. In 1945 she defected from the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence and became an informer for the U.S. She exposed two networks of spies, ultimately naming over 80 Americans who had engaged in espionage for...

, Louis Budenz
Louis F. Budenz
Louis Francis Budenz was an American activist and writer, as well as a Soviet espionage agent and head of the Buben group of spies. He began as a labor activist and became a member of the Communist Party USA...

, and Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers was born Jay Vivian Chambers and also known as David Whittaker Chambers , was an American writer and editor. After being a Communist Party USA member and Soviet spy, he later renounced communism and became an outspoken opponent later testifying in the perjury and espionage trial...

, speaking as expert witnesses.

Victims of McCarthyism

It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthyism. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired. Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous. Suspected homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. The hunt for "sexual perverts", who were presumed to be subversive by nature, resulted in thousands being harassed and denied employment.

In the film industry
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

, over 300 actors, authors and directors were denied work in the U.S. through the unofficial Hollywood blacklist
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

. Blacklists were at work throughout the entertainment industry, in universities and schools at all levels, in the legal profession, and in many other fields. A port security program initiated by the Coast Guard shortly after the start of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 required a review of every maritime worker who loaded or worked aboard any American ship, regardless of cargo or destination. As with other loyalty-security reviews of McCarthyism, the identities of any accusers and even the nature of any accusations were typically kept secret from the accused. Nearly 3,000 seamen and longshoremen lost their jobs due to this program alone.

A few of the more notable people who were blacklisted or suffered some other persecution during McCarthyism are listed here:
In 1953, Robert K. Murray, a young professor of history at Pennsylvania State University who had served as an intelligence officer in World War II, was revising his dissertation on the Red Scare of 1919-1920
First Red Scare
In American history, the First Red Scare of 1919–1920 was marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism. Concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and alleged spread in the American labor movement fueled the paranoia that defined the period.The First Red...

 for publication until Little, Brown and Company
Little, Brown and Company
Little, Brown and Company is a publishing house established by Charles Coffin Little and his partner, James Brown. Since 2006 it has been a constituent unit of Hachette Book Group USA.-19th century:...

 decided that "under the circumstances...it wasn't wise for them to bring this book out." He learned that investigators were questioning his colleagues and relatives. The University of Minnesota press published his volume, Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920, in 1955.

Critical reactions

The nation was by no means united behind the policies and activities that have come to be identified as McCarthyism. There were many critics of various aspects of McCarthyism, including many figures not generally noted for their liberalism.

For example, in his overridden veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 of the McCarran Internal Security Act
McCarran Internal Security Act
The Internal Security Act of 1950, , also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act or the McCarran Act, after Senator Pat McCarran , is a United States federal law of the McCarthy era. It was passed over President Harry Truman's veto...

 of 1950, President Truman wrote, "In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have." Truman also unsuccessfully vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act
Taft-Hartley Act
The Labor–Management Relations Act is a United States federal law that monitors the activities and power of labor unions. The act, still effective, was sponsored by Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr. and became law by overriding U.S. President Harry S...

, which among other provisions denied trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s National Labor Relations Board
National Labor Relations Board
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent agency of the United States government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. Unfair labor practices may involve union-related situations or instances of...

 protection unless union leaders signed affidavit
Affidavit
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

s swearing they were not and had never been Communists. In 1953, after he left office, Truman criticized the current Eisenhower administration:
On June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith was a Republican Senator from Maine, and one of the most successful politicians in Maine history. She was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House and the Senate, and the first woman from Maine to serve in either. She was also the first woman to have her name...

, a Maine Republican, delivered a speech to the Senate she called a "Declaration of Conscience
Declaration of Conscience
The Declaration of Conscience was a speech made by Senator Margaret Chase Smith on June 1, 1950, less than four months after Senator Joe McCarthy's infamous "Wheeling Speech," on February 9, 1950. It also refers to the text of the speech itself, which was endorsed by six other moderate/liberal...

". In a clear attack upon McCarthyism, she called for an end to "character assassinations" and named "some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize; The right to hold unpopular beliefs; The right to protest; The right of independent thought". She said "freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America", and decried "cancerous tentacles of 'know nothing, suspect everything' attitudes". Six other Republican Senators—Wayne Morse
Wayne Morse
Wayne Lyman Morse was a politician and attorney from Oregon, United States, known for his proclivity for opposing his parties' leadership, and specifically for his opposition to the Vietnam War on constitutional grounds....

, Irving M. Ives
Irving Ives
Irving McNeil Ives was an American politician from New York.-Life:He served overseas in the U.S. Army during World War I, rising to the rank of first lieutenant before he left the army in 1919...

, Charles W. Tobey
Charles W. Tobey
Charles William Tobey was an American politician, who was a Governor of New Hampshire and a United States senator, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of William Tobey, an accountant, and Ellen Hall Parker Tobey. His father had moved to Massachusetts from Maine in the 1860s. Charles Tobey...

, Edward John Thye
Edward John Thye
Edward John Thye was an American politician. He was the 26th Governor of Minnesota and a United States Senator from Minnesota.-Background:...

, George Aiken
George Aiken
George David Aiken was an American politician from Vermont. A Republican, he served as the 64th Governor of Vermont from 1937 to 1941 and as a U.S. Senator from 1941 to 1975...

, and Robert C. Hendrickson
Robert C. Hendrickson
Robert Clymer Hendrickson was a United States Senator from New Jersey.-Biography:Born in Woodbury, New Jersey, he attended public schools and during the First World War enlisted in the United States Army in 1918 and served overseas...

—joined Smith in condemning the tactics of McCarthyism.

Elmer Davis
Elmer Davis
Elmer Davis was a well-known news reporter, author, the Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II and a Peabody Award recipient.-Education and early career:...

, one of the most highly respected news reporters and commentators of the 1940s and 1950s, often spoke out against what he saw as the excesses of McCarthyism. On one occasion he warned that many local anti-Communist movements constituted a "general attack not only on schools and colleges and libraries, on teachers and textbooks, but on all people who think and write [...] in short, on the freedom of the mind".

In 1952, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision in Adler v. Board of Education of New York, thus approving a law that allowed state loyalty review boards to fire teachers deemed "subversive". In his dissenting opinion, Justice William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

 wrote: "The present law proceeds on a principle repugnant to our society — guilt by association.[...] What happens under this law is typical of what happens in a police state. Teachers are under constant surveillance; their pasts are combed for signs of disloyalty; their utterances are watched for clues to dangerous thoughts."

The 1953 Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

 play The Crucible
The Crucible
The Crucible is a 1952 play by the American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692 and 1693. Miller wrote the play as an allegory of McCarthyism, when the US government blacklisted accused communists...

used the Salem witch trials
Salem witch trials
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693...

 as a metaphor for McCarthyism, suggesting that the process of McCarthyism-style persecution can occur at any time or place. The play focused on the fact that once accused, a person had little chance of exoneration, given the irrational and circular reasoning of both the courts and the public. Miller later wrote: "The more I read into the Salem panic, the more it touched off corresponding images of common experiences in the fifties."

One of the most influential opponents of McCarthyism was the famed CBS newscaster and analyst Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow
Edward Roscoe Murrow, KBE was an American broadcast journalist. He first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada.Fellow journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss, and Alexander Kendrick...

. On October 20, 1953, Murrow's show See It Now
See It Now
See It Now is an American newsmagazine and documentary series broadcast by CBS from 1951 to 1958. It was created by Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly, Murrow being the host of the show. From 1952 to 1957, See It Now won four Emmy Awards and was nominated three times...

aired an episode about the dismissal of Milo Radulovich, a former reserve Air Force lieutenant who was accused of associating with Communists. The show was strongly critical of the Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

's methods, which included presenting evidence in a sealed envelope that Radulovich and his attorney were not allowed to open. On March 9, 1954, See It Now aired another episode on the issue of McCarthyism, this one attacking Joseph McCarthy himself. Titled "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy", it used footage of McCarthy speeches to portray him as dishonest, reckless and abusive toward witnesses and prominent Americans. In his concluding comment, Murrow said:
This broadcast has been cited as a key episode in bringing about the end of McCarthyism.

In April 1954, Senator McCarthy was also under attack in the Army–McCarthy hearings. These hearings were televised live on the new American Broadcasting Company
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 network, allowing the public to view first-hand McCarthy's interrogation of individuals and his controversial tactics. In one exchange, McCarthy reminded the attorney for the Army, Joseph Welch, that he had an employee in his law firm who had belonged to an organization that had been accused of Communist sympathies. In an exchange that reflected the increasingly negative public opinion of McCarthy, Welch famously rebuked the senator: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Decline

In the mid- and late 1950s, the attitudes and institutions of McCarthyism slowly weakened. Changing public sentiments had a lot to do with this; the decline of McCarthyism may also be charted through a series of court decisions.

A key figure in the end of the blacklisting of McCarthyism was John Henry Faulk
John Henry Faulk
John Henry Faulk from Austin, Texas was a storyteller and radio show host. His successful lawsuit against blacklisters of the entertainment industry helped to bring an end to the Hollywood blacklist.-Early life:...

. Host of an afternoon comedy radio show, Faulk was a leftist active in his union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is a performers' union that represents a wide variety of talent, including actors in radio and television, as well as radio and television announcers and newspersons, singers and recording artists , promo and voice-over announcers and other...

. He was scrutinized by AWARE, Inc., one of the private firms that examined individuals for signs of communist "disloyalty". Marked by AWARE as unfit, he was fired by CBS Radio
CBS Radio
CBS Radio, Inc., formerly known as Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, is one of the largest owners and operators of radio stations in the United States, third behind main rival Clear Channel Communications and Cumulus Media. CBS Radio owns around 130 radio stations across the country...

. Almost uniquely among the many victims of blacklisting, Faulk decided to sue AWARE in 1957 and finally won the case in 1962.
With this court decision, the private blacklisters and those who used them were put on notice that they were legally liable
Legal liability
Legal liability is the legal bound obligation to pay debts.* In law a person is said to be legally liable when they are financially and legally responsible for something. Legal liability concerns both civil law and criminal law. See Strict liability. Under English law, with the passing of the Theft...

 for the professional and financial damage they caused. Although some informal blacklisting continued, the private "loyalty checking" agencies were soon a thing of the past. Even before the Faulk verdict, many in Hollywood had decided it was time to break the blacklist. In 1960, Dalton Trumbo
Dalton Trumbo
James Dalton Trumbo was an American screenwriter and novelist, and one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of film professionals who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 during the committee's investigation of Communist influences in the motion picture industry...

, one of the best known members of the Hollywood Ten
Hollywood blacklist
The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or...

, was publicly credited with writing the films Exodus
Exodus (film)
Exodus is a 1960 epic war film made by Alpha and Carlyle Productions and distributed by United Artists. Produced and directed by Otto Preminger, the film was based on the 1958 novel Exodus, by Leon Uris. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, which represented the breaking of the Hollywood...

and Spartacus
Spartacus (film)
Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast...

.

Much of the undoing of McCarthyism came at the hands of the Supreme Court. As Richard Rovere
Richard Rovere
Richard Halworth Rovere was an American journalist.-Biography:He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from The Stony Brook School in 1933 and graduated from Bard College, then a branch of Columbia University. During the Great Depression, he joined the Communist movement and wrote for...

 wrote in his biography of Joseph McCarthy, "[T]he United States Supreme Court took judicial notice of the rents McCarthy was making in the fabric of liberty and thereupon wrote a series of decisions that have made the fabric stronger than before." Two Eisenhower appointees to the court—Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

 (who was made Chief Justice) and William J. Brennan, Jr.
William J. Brennan, Jr.
William Joseph Brennan, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1956 to 1990...

—proved to be more liberal than Eisenhower had anticipated, and he would later refer to the appointment of Warren as his "biggest mistake".

In 1956, the Supreme Court heard the case of Slochower v. Board of Education. Slochower was a professor at Brooklyn College who had been fired by New York City for invoking the Fifth Amendment when McCarthy's committee questioned him about his past membership in the Communist Party. The court prohibited such actions, ruling "...we must condemn the practice of imputing a sinister meaning to the exercise of a person's constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment.[...] The privilege against self-incrimination would be reduced to a hollow mockery if its exercise could be taken as equivalent either to a confession of guilt or a conclusive presumption of perjury."

Another key decision was in the 1957 case Yates v. United States
Yates v. United States
Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 , was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving free speech and congressional power...

, in which the convictions of fourteen Communists were reversed. In Justice Black's opinion, he wrote of the original "Smith Act" trials: "The testimony of witnesses is comparatively insignificant. Guilt or innocence may turn on what Marx or Engels or someone else wrote or advocated as much as a hundred years or more ago.[...] When the propriety of obnoxious or unfamiliar view about government is in reality made the crucial issue, [...] prejudice makes conviction inevitable except in the rarest circumstances."

Also in 1957, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Watkins v. United States
Watkins v. United States
Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178 , was a case brought to the Supreme Court of the United States after John Watkins was convicted under , for failing to answer questions while posed as a witness relating to people he may have known to be communist...

, curtailing the power of HUAC to punish uncooperative witnesses by finding them in contempt of Congress. Justice Warren wrote in the decision: "The mere summoning of a witness and compelling him to testify, against his will, about his beliefs, expressions or associations is a measure of governmental interference. And when those forced revelations concern matters that are unorthodox, unpopular, or even hateful to the general public, the reaction in the life of the witness may be disastrous."

In its 1958 decision in Kent v. Dulles, the Supreme Court halted the State Department from using the authority of its own regulations to refuse or revoke passports based on an applicant's communist beliefs or associations.

Repercussions

Though McCarthyism might seem to be of interest only as a historical subject, the political divisions it created in the United States continue to make themselves manifest, and the politics and history of anti-Communism in the United States are still contentious. Portions of the massive security apparatus established during the McCarthy era still exist. Loyalty oath
Loyalty oath
A loyalty oath is an oath of loyalty to an organization, institution, or state of which an individual is a member.In this context, a loyalty oath is distinct from pledge or oath of allegiance...

s are still required by the California Constitution
California Constitution
The document that establishes and describes the duties, powers, structure and function of the government of the U.S. state of California. The original constitution, adopted in November 1849 in advance of California attaining U.S. statehood in 1850, was superseded by the current constitution, which...

 for all officials and employees of the government of California
Government of California
The government of California operates in the context of a democratic republic with three branches of government: the executive branch consisting of the Governor of California and the other elected constitutional officers; the legislative branch consisting of the California State Legislature which...

 (which is highly problematic for Quakers
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 and Jehovah's Witnesses whose beliefs preclude them from pledging absolute loyalty to the state), and at the federal level, a few portions of the McCarran Internal Security Act
McCarran Internal Security Act
The Internal Security Act of 1950, , also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act or the McCarran Act, after Senator Pat McCarran , is a United States federal law of the McCarthy era. It was passed over President Harry Truman's veto...

 are still in effect. A number of observers have compared the oppression of liberals and leftists during the McCarthy period to recent actions against suspected terrorists, most of them Muslims. In The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism, author Haynes Johnson compares the "abuses suffered by aliens thrown into high security U.S. prisons in the wake of 9/11" to the excesses of the McCarthy era.
Similarly, David D. Cole
David D. Cole
David D. Cole is an American law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He has published in various legal fields including civil rights, criminal justice, constitutional law and law and literature...

 has written that the Patriot Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

 "in effect resurrects the philosophy of McCarthyism, simply substituting 'terrorist' for 'communist.'"

From the opposite pole, conservative pundit Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter
Ann Hart Coulter is an American lawyer, conservative social and political commentator, author, and syndicated columnist. She frequently appears on television, radio, and as a speaker at public events and private events...

 devotes much of her book Treason
Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism is a 2003 book by Ann Coulter. Three weeks after its release more than 500,000 copies were sold.-McCarthyism:...

to drawing parallels between past opposition to McCarthy and McCarthyism and the policies and beliefs of modern-day liberals, arguing that the former hindered the anti-Communist cause and the latter hinder the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

.
Other authors who have drawn on a comparison between current anti-terrorism policies and McCarthyism include Geoffrey R. Stone
Geoffrey R. Stone
Geoffrey R. Stone is an American law professor. He is currently the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.-Dean of the Chicago Law School:...

, Ted Morgan,
and Jonah Goldberg
Jonah Goldberg
Jonah Jacob Goldberg is an American conservative syndicated columnist and author. Goldberg is known for his contributions on politics and culture to , of which he is editor-at-large...

.

McCarthyism also attracts controversy purely as a historical issue. Through declassified documents from Soviet archives and Venona project
Venona project
The VENONA project was a long-running secret collaboration of the United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, the majority during World War II...

 decryptions of coded Soviet messages, it has become known that the Soviet Union engaged in substantial espionage activities in the United States during the 1940s. It is also known that the Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 was substantially funded and its policies controlled by the Soviet Union, and that CPUSA members were often recruited as spies. In the view of some contemporary commentators, these revelations stand as at least a partial vindication of McCarthyism. Some feel that there was a genuinely dangerous subversive element in the United States, and that this danger justified extreme measures. Others, while acknowledging that there were inexcusable excesses during McCarthyism, argue that some contemporary historians of McCarthyism underplay the depth of Soviet espionage in America or the undemocratic nature of the CPUSA, the latter concern being shared by some Trotskyites who felt that they, and anti-Stalin socialists in general, were persecuted by the CPUSA. The opposing view holds that, recent revelations notwithstanding, by the time McCarthyism began in the late 1940s, the CPUSA was an ineffectual fringe group, and the damage done to U.S. interests by Soviet spies after World War II was minimal. Historian Ellen Schrecker has written, "in this country, McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist Party ever did."

Later use of the term

Since the time of McCarthy, the word McCarthyism has entered American speech as a general term for a variety of practices: aggressively questioning a person's patriotism, making poorly supported accusations, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or to discredit an opponent, subverting civil rights in the name of national security, and the use of demagoguery
Demagogy
Demagogy or demagoguery is a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears, vanities and expectations of the public—typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist, populist or religious themes...

 are all often referred to as McCarthyism. McCarthyism can also be synonymous with the term witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

, both referring to mass hysteria and moral panic
Moral panic
A moral panic is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order. According to Stanley Cohen, author of Folk Devils and Moral Panics and credited creator of the term, a moral panic occurs when "[a] condition, episode, person or group of...

.

See also

  • Fear Mongering
    Fear mongering
    Fear mongering is the use of fear to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end...

  • Lavender scare
    Lavender scare
    The Lavender Scare refers to the fear and persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s in the United States, which paralleled the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism....

  • Redbaiting

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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