Red Scare
Overview
Durrell Blackwell Durrell Blackwell The term Red Scare denotes two distinct periods of strong Anti-Communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 in the United States: the First Red Scare, from 1919 to 1920, and the Second Red Scare, from 1947 to 1957. 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...

 was about worker (socialist) revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

 and political radicalism
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

. The Second Red Scare was focused on national and foreign communists influencing society or infiltrating
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...

 the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, or both.
The first Red Scare began following the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and the intensely patriotic years of World War I as anarchist and left-wing political violence and social agitation aggravated national, social, and political tensions.
Encyclopedia
Durrell Blackwell Durrell Blackwell The term Red Scare denotes two distinct periods of strong Anti-Communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 in the United States: the First Red Scare, from 1919 to 1920, and the Second Red Scare, from 1947 to 1957. 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...

 was about worker (socialist) revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

 and political radicalism
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

. The Second Red Scare was focused on national and foreign communists influencing society or infiltrating
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...

 the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, or both.

First Red Scare (1919–1920)

The first Red Scare began following the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and the intensely patriotic years of World War I as anarchist and left-wing political violence and social agitation aggravated national, social, and political tensions. Political scientist, and former member of the Communist Party, Murray B. Levin
Murray Levin
Dr. Murray Burton Levin, Ph.D. was a political science professor at Boston University from 1955 through his retirement in 1989. A progressive who once had been a member of the Communist Party USA, Levin was an unreconstructed radical throughout his academic career...

 wrote that the "Red Scare" was "a nation-wide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear of red monkeys and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent — a revolution that would change Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life." Newspapers exacerbated those political fears into xenophobia
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

 — because varieties of radical anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 were perceived as answers to poverty. The advocates often were recent European immigrants (cf. hyphenated-Americans). Moreover, the Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

 (IWW) backed several labor strikes
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 in 1916 and 1917 that the press portrayed as radical threats to American society inspired by left-wing, foreign agents provocateur. Thus, the press misrepresented legitimate labor strikes as "crimes against society", "conspiracies against the government", and "Plots to establish Communism".

In April 1919, authorities discovered a plot for mailing 36 bombs to prominent members of the U.S. political and economic establishment
The Establishment
The Establishment is a term used to refer to a visible dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation. The term suggests a closed social group which selects its own members...

: J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

, John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller was an American oil industrialist, investor, and philanthropist. He was the founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of...

, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932...

, 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...

 Alexander Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer was Attorney General of the United States from 1919 to 1921. He was nicknamed The Fighting Quaker and he directed the controversial Palmer Raids.-Congressional career:...

, and immigration officials. On June 2, 1919, in eight cities, eight bombs simultaneously exploded
1919 United States anarchist bombings
The 1919 United States anarchist bombings were a series of bombings and attempted bombings carried out by anarchist followers of Luigi Galleani from April through June 1919...

. One target was the Washington, D.C., house of U.S. Attorney General Palmer, where the explosion killed the bomber, whom evidence indicated was an Italian-American radical from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, Palmer ordered the U.S. Justice Department to launch the Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

 (1919–21).

Yet, in 1918, before the bombings, President Wilson had pressured the Congress to legislate the anti-immigrant, anti-anarchist Sedition Act of 1918
Sedition Act of 1918
The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds...

 to protect wartime morale by deporting putatively undesirable political people. Law professor 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...

 reports that President Wilson’s "... federal government consistently targeted alien radicals, deporting them . . . for their speech or associations, making little effort to distinguish true threats from ideological dissident
Dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

s.”

Initially, the press praised the raids; the Washington Post said, "There is no time to waste on hairsplitting over [the] infringement of liberty", and The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

said the injuries inflicted upon the arrested were "souvenirs of the new attitude of aggressiveness which had been assumed by the Federal agents against Reds and suspected-Reds." In the event, the Palmer Raids were criticised as unconstitutionally illegal by twelve publicly-prominent lawyers, including (future Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.-Early life:Frankfurter was born into a Jewish family on November 15, 1882, in Vienna, Austria, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Europe. He was the third of six children of Leopold and Emma Frankfurter...

, who published A Report on the Illegal Practices of The United States Department of Justice, documenting systematic violations of the Fourth
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

, Fifth
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...

, Sixth
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which sets forth rights related to criminal prosecutions...

, and Eighth Amendments
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual...

 to the U.S. Constitution via Palmer-authorised “illegal acts” and “wanton violence”. Defensively, Palmer then warned that a government-deposing left-wing revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

 would begin on 1 May 1920 — May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

, the International Workers’ Day. When it failed to happen, he was ridiculed and lost much credibility. Strengthening the legal criticism of Palmer was that fewer than 600 deportations were substantiated with evidence, out of the thousands of resident aliens illegally arrested and deported. In July 1920, Palmer’s promising Democratic Party bid
United States presidential election, 1920
The United States presidential election of 1920 was dominated by the aftermath of World War I and a hostile response to certain policies of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president. The wartime economic boom had collapsed. Politicians were arguing over peace treaties and the question of America's...

 for the U.S. presidency failed. Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

 was bombed
Wall Street bombing
The Wall Street bombing occurred at 12:01 p.m. on Thursday, September 16, 1920, in the Financial District of New York City. The blast killed 38 and seriously injured 143...

 on September 1, 1920 near Federal Hall
Federal Hall
Federal Hall, built in 1700 as New York's City Hall, later served as the first capitol building of the United States of America under the Constitution, and was the site of George Washington's inauguration as the first President of the United States. It was also where the United States Bill of...

 and the JP Morgan Bank
23 Wall Street
23 Wall Street or "The Corner" is an office building formerly owned by J.P. Morgan & Co. located at the southeast corner of Wall Street and Broad Street, in the heart of New York City's Financial District....

. Although both anarchists and Communists were suspected as being responsible for the bombing, ultimately no individuals were indicted for the bombing in which 38 died and 141 were injured.

In 1919–20, several states enacted "criminal syndicalism" laws out-lawing advocacy of violence in effecting and securing social change
Social change
Social change refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. It may refer to the notion of social progress or sociocultural evolution, the philosophical idea that society moves forward by dialectical or evolutionary means. It may refer to a paradigmatic change in the socio-economic...

. The restrictions included free speech limitations.

Passage of these laws, in turn, provoked aggressive police investigation of the accused persons, their jailing, and deportation for being suspected of being either communist or left-wing. Regardless of ideological gradation, the Red Scare did not distinguish between communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, 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 social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

.

Second Red Scare (1947–1957)

The second Red Scare occurred after 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...

 (1939–45), and was popularly known as "McCarthyism" after its most famous supporter and namesake, Senator 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...

. McCarthyism coincided with increased popular fear of communist 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...

 consequent to a 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....

 Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, the Berlin Blockade
Berlin Blockade
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied...

 (1948–49), the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, the confessions of spying for the Soviet Union given by several high-ranking U.S. government officials, and 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...

.

Internal causes of anti-communist fear

The events of the late 1940s — the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

 (1945–1991) around Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, and 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....

’s nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 — surprised the American public, influencing popular opinion about U.S. national security, that, in turn, connected to fear of the Soviet Union hydrogen-bombing the United States, and fear of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA). In Canada, the 1946 Kellock-Taschereau Commission investigated espionage after top secret documents concerning RDX
RDX
RDX, an initialism for Research Department Explosive, is an explosive nitroamine widely used in military and industrial applications. It was developed as an explosive which was more powerful than TNT, and it saw wide use in WWII. RDX is also known as cyclonite, hexogen , and T4...

, radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 and other weapons were handed over to the Soviets by a domestic spy-ring. At 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"...

, former CPUSA members and NKVD spies, 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...

 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...

, testified that Soviet spies
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...

 and communist sympathizers had penetrated the U.S. government before, during and after World War II. Other U.S. citizen spies confessed, some with pride, to their acts of espionage in situations where the statute of limitations on prosecuting them had run. In 1949, anti–communist fear, and fear of American traitors, was aggravated by the Chinese Communists
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 winning the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 against the Western-sponsored 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...

, their founding of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, and later Chinese intervention in 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...

 (1950–53) against U.S. ally South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

.

History

By the 1930s, communism had become an attractive economic ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 among some in the United States, particularly among labor leaders and the intelligentsia
Intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

. At its zenith in 1939, the CPUSA had some 50,000 members. In 1940, soon after World War II began in Europe, the U.S. Congress legislated the Alien Registration 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...

 (aka the Smith Act, 18 USC §2385) making it a crime to "knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, 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" — and required Federal registration of all foreign nationals
Alien (law)
In law, an alien is a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.-Categorization:Types of "alien" persons are:*An alien who is legally permitted to remain in a country which is foreign to him or her. On specified terms, this kind of alien may be called a legal alien of that country...

. Although principally deployed against communists, the Smith Act was also used against right-wing political threats such as the German-American Bund
German-American Bund
The German American Bund or German American Federation was an American Nazi organization established in the 1930s...

, and the perceived racial disloyalty of the Japanese-American population, (cf. hyphenated-Americans).

In 1941, after Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 invaded the Soviet Union, the CPUSA’s official's position became pro-war, opposing labor strikes in the weapons industry and supporting the U.S. war effort against the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

. With the slogan "Communism is Twentieth-Century Americanism", the chairman, Earl Browder
Earl Browder
Earl Russell Browder was an American communist and General Secretary of the Communist Party USA from 1934 to 1945. He was expelled from the party in 1946.- Early years :...

, advertised the CPUSA’s integration to the political mainstream. In contrast, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party
Socialist Workers Party (United States)
The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

 opposed U.S. participation in the war and supported labor strikes, even in the war-effort industry. For this reason, James P. Cannon
James P. Cannon
James Patrick "Jim" Cannon was an American Trotskyist and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party.Born on February 11, 1890 in Rosedale, Kansas, he joined the Socialist Party of America in 1908 and the Industrial Workers of the World in 1911...

 and other SWP leaders were convicted per the Smith Act.

In March 1947, President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 signed 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...

, creating the “Federal Employees Loyalty Program” establishing political-loyalty review boards who determined the “Americanism” of Federal Government employees, and recommended termination of those who had confessed to spying for the Soviet Union, as well as some suspected of being "Un-American". The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC)
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"...

 and the committees of Senator 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...

 (R., Wisc.
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...

) conducted character investigations of “American communists” (actual and alleged), and their roles in (real and imaginary) espionage, propaganda, and subversion favoring the Soviet Union — in the process revealing the extraordinary breadth of the Soviet spy network in infiltrating the federal government; the process also launched the successful political career of Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, and Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

, as well as that of Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy, a freshman Senator who died soon thereafter, realized little political gain from the process.

Senator McCarran introduced 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 that was passed by the U.S. Congress and which modified a great deal of law to restrict civil liberties in the name of security. President Truman declared the act a 'mockery of the Bill of Rights' and a 'long step toward totalitarianism' because it represented a government restriction on the freedom of opinion. He vetoed the act but his veto was overturned by Congress. Much of the bill eventually was repealed.

The Second Red Scare profoundly altered the temper of American society. Its later characterization as anti-intellectual may be seen as contributory to the popularity of anti-communist espionage (My Son John, 1950) and science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 movies (The Thing From Another World
The Thing from Another World
The Thing from Another World , is a 1951 science fiction film based on the 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell . It tells the story of an Air Force crew and scientists at a remote Arctic research outpost who fight a malevolent plant-based alien being...

, 1951) with stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings. Even a baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are a Major League Baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the National League Central Division. The club was established in 1882 as a charter member of the American Association and joined the National League in 1890....

, temporarily renamed themselves the “Cincinnati Redlegs” to avoid the money-losing and career-ruining connotations inherent in being ball-playing “Reds” (communists).

In 1995, the American government revealed details of the 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...

 indicating intelligence gathering by Americans for the Soviet Union from 1940 through 1980.

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...

  • History of Soviet espionage in the United States
    History of Soviet espionage in the United States
    Since the late 1920s, the Soviet Union, through its OGPU and NKVD intelligence services, used Russians and foreign-born nationals as well as Communist, and people of American origin to perform espionage activities in the United States. These various espionage networks eventually succeeded in...

  • 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...

  • Jencks Act
    Jencks Act
    The Jencks Act, , provides that the government be required to produce a verbatim statement or report made by a government witness or prospective government witness , but not until after the witness has testified. Jencks material is evidence that is used in the course of a federal criminal...

  • Jencks v. United States
    Jencks v. United States
    Jencks v. United States, 353 U.S. 657 , is a U.S. Supreme Court case.The petitioner, Clinton Jencks appealed, by certiorari, his conviction in a Federal District Court of violating 18 U.S.C...

  • Kellock–Taschereau Commission
    Kellock–Taschereau Commission
    The Royal Commission to Investigate the Facts Relating to and the Circumstances Surrounding the Communication, by Public Officials and Other Persons in Positions of Trust, of Secret and Confidential Information to Agents of a Foreign Power, more popularly known as the Kellock–Taschereau Commission...

  • 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....

  • 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....

  • The Red Decade
    The Red Decade
    The Red Decade is a term coined by journalist and historian Eugene Lyons to describe a period in American history in the 1930s characterized by a widespread infatuation with communism in general and Stalinism in particular...

  • 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...

  • Yellow Peril
    Yellow Peril
    Yellow Peril was a colour metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with immigration of Chinese laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States, and later associated with the Japanese during the mid 20th century, due to Japanese military expansion.The term...

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