On March 22, 1947, President Truman issued his Executive Order 9835, which decreed that “there shall be a loyalty investigation” of every Federal employee. During the next four years some three million individuals were examined and cleared, over 3000 have resigned while being investigated, 308 were dismissed as “security risks” and only one-a 27-year-old-girl analyst in the Justice Department-was arrested on charges of being a spy. This gigantic operation was carried out by secret police methods which ran counter to the best American traditions, but it was made necessary and even inevitable by the unpleasant facts of the Cold War. According to the F. B. I.
in 1947 there were 80. 000 US Communist Party members who recieved inspiration from Moscow. Alhtough there was never a chance that this many people can succesfully overthrow the American government, they could spy for Russia, as some of them already had. The Red Menace was a godsend to the House Committee on Un-American activities, which began its career in 1938 by attempting to prove that the New Deal itself was a Communist plot. Over the years the Committee amassed a million-name file over known or suspected Communists. The Committee also herded ten Hollywood writers to jail for refusing to answer its questions.
In the heat of the 1948 campaign Henry Truman remarked that the Committee’s sensational hearings smelled to him like political “red herring” (Tindall 1206).
American literature has changed and evolved from the early colonial days to develop characteristics that are unique and which identify it from other literary works. Several writers have contributed to the development of American literature. Some of these writers immigrated into the United States and their works were accepted into the American literary canon. Some of the notable foreign born ...
Such was the ambience that greeted the 1950 s in the United States where alleged Communist threats served to some as springboards for their own political career like the then young Californian politician Richard Nixon or another, hitherto obscure, senator from the East-Coast, Joseph McCarthy. They both aimed at capitalizing on the Red Scare by making use of the publicity that was available for anyone voicing his anger about Communist espionage. The origins of Red Scare date back to the mid 1940 s when it started to grow as the domestic counterpart to the Cold War abroad and reached a crescendo during the Korean conflict. Since 1938, a House Committee on Un-American activities had kept up a drumfire of accusations about subversives in the government. Truman’s Executive Order was designed partly if not mainly to protect the President’s political flank but it failed of that purpose because of disclosures of earlier Communist penetrations into government that were few in number but sensational in character.
Perhaps the single most damaging case to the administration involved Alger Hiss, president for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who had served in several government departments, and while in the State Department had been Secretary General of the United Nations charter. Whittaker Chambers, a former Soviet agent, told the HUAC in 1948 that Hiss had given him a number of secret documents ten years earlier. Hiss sued for libel but Chambers produced the microfilms that Hiss had passed on to him. The charge against Hiss was perjury but finally was convicted of lying about espionage.
It was the Hiss affair that raised to national prominence the youthful congressman from California, Richard M. Nixon, who doggedly insisted on pursuing the case and then exploited the anti-Communist cause to win election to the Senate in 1950. Seeking a way to augment his chances for reelection in 1952, there appeared Sen. Joseph McCarthy as the shrewdest and the most ruthless exploiter of anxieties. He took up the cause, or at least the pose, of anti-Communism. He would give out speeches on which he said that the State Department was infested with Communists and that the held in his hands a list of their names (Wheeling, West Virgina, on february 9, 1950).
Senator Joseph McCarthy (1) The history of twentieth century contains numerous examples of Communists actively striving to undermine socio-political stability in capitalist countries, by assassinating their political opponents, engaging in economic sabotage and sponsoring international terrorism. However, there are also many examples of governmental officials in Western countries being able to ...
Later there was a confusion as to whether he had said 205, 81, 57, or a “lot of” names and even whether the sheet of paper carried a list at all. Such confusion always pursued McCarthy’s charges. Challenged to provide names, he finally pointed to Owen Lattimore of the John Hopkins University, an Asian expert, as head of the “espionage ring in the State Department” (Kelley 966).
His charges were pronounced as “fraud and hoax.” McCarthy then turned, in what became his common tactic, to other charges, other names. Whenever his charges were refuted he loosed a scattershot of new charges. In his hit-and-run tactics McCarthy was very much like Shakespeare’s Iago planting suspicions without proof and growing ever more impudent.
“He lied with wild abandon,” the commentator Richard Rover e wrote; “he lied without evident fear; … he lied vividly and with bold imagination; he lied, often, with very little pretense of telling the truth (Tindall 1209).
McCarthy never uncovered a single Communist agent in government and on December 2, 1954, the Senate condemned McCarthy for contempt of the Senate. He was finished, and increasingly took to alcohol. Three years later, at the age of forty-eight, he died in obscurity.
The witch-hunt was over, McCarthyism, Ike joked, had become McCarthywasm, though not for those whose reputations and careers had been wrecked. To the end Eisenhower kept his resolve not to “get down in the gutter with that guy” (Tindall 1210) and sully the dignity of the presidency, but he did work resolutely against McCarthy behind the scenes. Eisenhower shared, nevertheless, the deeply held conviction of many citizens that espionage posed a real danger to national security. He denied clemency to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted of transmitting atomic secrets to the Russains, on the grounds that they “may have condemned to death tens of millions of innocent people.” (Tindall 1212) They went to the electric chair at Sing-Sing Prison in 1953. Not for everyone was the sweep off of Communists a matter of individual political career but extended investigations were initiated by government organizations as well. Thanks to the Smith Act of 1940 prosecution of Communists was made possible and as a result of growing suspicions both at home and abroad HUAC stepped up its activities in close cooperation with J.
Poli Sci 2304 Prof. Linehan What Senator Joseph McCarthy has taught me about Politics, America and Myself. Senator Joseph McCarthy was one of the most relentless, ambitious, and strongest anti-Communist Americans America has ever seen. America in the state of panic it was in formed the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was overshadowed by McCarthy alone. His Allegations cost people ...
Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation to “ferret out” (Magyarics- Frank 355) Communist sympathizers in the federal government and expose Communist influence in the labour movement, in culture, art, and education. Clandestinely, that is without the authorization of either the President or the Attorney General, HUAC was busy holding interrogations all over the country and one of the most common defenses of the accused was taking the Fifth Amendment that provides that no one can be forced to incriminate himself or herself or the others. As the Cold war was slowly coming to an end during the Reagan’s administration, the general public grew increasingly weary of having to live their every day lives in fear and suspicion. Communists, as it was getting clearer, did not, or, could not, pose a direct threat to the country, a recognition that the American mind greeted with relief. The in grated hostility towards the Soviets and Communist ideologies have completely ceased to exist by now, and the legacy of a threat that once kept an entire nation alert is regarded as nothing but a pathetic social ideology done away by a free democratic civilization-the United States of America. Works Cited Kelley, Robert F.
The Shaping of the American Past Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall 1975 Tindall, George America: A Narrative History New York-London W. W. 1984 Frank Tibor-Magyarics Tam ” as Handouts for U. S.
History Panel Ltd. Budapest 1999.