Historical Investigation A) Plan of Investigation: This investigation seeks to evaluate the extent to which anti-communist policies affected American society during the 1950 s. The main focus of this investigation in on the effect of the accusations made by Senator Joseph McCarthy, that communists were posing a threat against the American way of life. The laws and policies implemented during this time will be researched and analysed for their impact on the everyday life of the American people. The role that the media played in promoting and undermining McCarthyism will also be considered. A number of different sources will be studied for this historical investigation and two important sources used will then be evaluated thoroughly in reference to their origins, purpose, value and limitations.
The gathered information will also be analysed and a conclusion will be formed based on the evidence found. B) Summary of Evidence: The rise of McCarthyism really began with Senator Joe McCarthy’s first speech at Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950. In this legendary speech McCarthy claimed to have a list of 205 Communists who were employees of the State Department. “And Ladies and gentlemen, while I cannot take the time to name all the men in the State Depart who have been named as active members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205 – a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Part… .” (Reeves 224).
The European Union (EU) is by far the most advanced form of cooperation between independent sovereign countries today. Despite the great diversity in culture of its member states, in its integration the EU has established characteristics of a single state; its own parliament, justice system and a single market with one currency. The Europeans are the first to create this model where countries give ...
Although McCarthy did not actually have such a list of names, he managed to create a great deal of publicity with his allegations, generating headlines in newspapers across the country.
He brought the issue of Communism into the public eye by playing upon America’s fears of Communism during the Cold War. Over the next ten years McCarthyism would play a major role in shaping the American way of life. McCarthyism did not only affect those people who were blacklisted, but to some extent it affected the entire country by influencing many aspects of society, politics, and culture. The anti-Communists crusades were also responsible for shaping international affairs and suppressing much-needed reforms during the 1950 s. C) Evaluation of Sources: The American Inquisition was published in 1973 and was written by Cedric Belfrage. Belfrage was born in London and worked with the British Intelligence during the war.
He came to the United States at the age of twenty-one and worked as the editor of the National Guardian, which he co-founded. In 1955, after refusing to go before the Un-American Activities Committee, Belfrage was deported. The author states that the intention of this book “is an attempt to chronicle the follies year by year and is, above all, a tribute to the resistance” (Belfrage xvi).
Men Against McCarthy by Richard M. Fried was published in 1976. Fried is the assistant professor of history at the University of Illinois.
Fried’s stated purpose for this book is to look at “the McCarthy problem as his political foes perceived it and examine their strategy and tactics” (Fried ix).
These two sources are very valuable to this historical investigation because they represent different ways of looking at the issue of McCarthyism. Both were also published after the age of McCarthyism and therefore can look at this period in history with more objectivity because they have the advantage of time and hindsight. Unfortunately, both books have limitations. Both of the sources were published in the United States and therefore could have been censored for political reasons.
Although, Cedric Belfrage was living in the United States during part of the McCarthy era and experienced the consequences of the anti-Communist actions first hand, this experience can make his opinions biased. He clearly was not a supporter of McCarthyism as it resulted in his deportation from America. As he could not enter America, this would have made it very difficult for Belfrage to do the research for this book. He had to rely upon “mail, interviews with travelers and an inadequate library” (Belfrage xvi).
The phrase 'true American'; does not have a definition, although the word 'American'; does. The definition of American is 'belonging to or characteristic of America.' ; It is hard to relate Benjamin Franklin to this definition of an American, but it does apply to many of his characteristics. Franklin's loyalty to America shows greatly throughout his life in his writings and jobs. Franklin's many ...
Richard Fried, on the other hand, was not emotionally involved with the issue of McCarthyism, and as a result, his point of view is not considered to be as biased as that of Belfrage. It is interesting how Fried examines the roots of McCarthyism within the Republican Party and focuses on conflict between McCarthy and his foes in the national political scene of the 1950 s. Friend has obviously done a great amount of research through personal papers, files, and interviews and is very knowledgeable on the politics of McCarthyism. D) Analysis: One of the main problems in making an objective analysis of the affect of McCarthyism on American life is the reliability of the sources that have been used to gather evidence.
There is also no scale on which to base the extent of the impact of McCarthyism on America. It is therefore extremely difficult for someone to make a reliable or valuable judgement on this topic. It is clear the McCarthyism had many negative results on America and shattered the lives of many innocent people. In fact, it would be very difficult to argue that McCarthyism had any positive effects. People lost their reputations, careers, and freedom, and as many as ten thousand people may have lost their jobs during this time. Trials were held unfairly and in general people were considered guilty until proven innocent.
McCarthyism also affected America in what did not happen rather than what did. There were many needed social reforms that were never adopted, other political initiatives were not pursued, workers who were not organized into unions, books that were not written, and films that were not made. The most obvious casualty of McCarthyism was the Communist Party itself. The party was already facing internal problems before and during the 1950 s it dwindled into complete insignificance.
Why do people join social movements? Why do people join political, professional, or social movements, of whatever size, and surrender so completely, giving up, in the extreme, everything; their fortunes, their critical thinking, their political freedom, their friends, families, even their own lives? What causes people to create a system or perhaps follow a system that creates such things as ethnic ...
Unfortunately, America lost the institutional network that had created the chance for alternatives to the status quo to be presented. In addition, with the disappearance of a more radical movement on their left, moderate reform groups subjected to more right-wing attacks and became less effective. In respect to social policy, McCarthyism may have suppressed much-needed reforms. As the nation’s politics swung to the right after World War II, the federal government discarded the unfinished agenda of the New Deal. Measures like national health insurance, a social reform embraced by the rest of the industrialized world, simply was not considered. The left liberal political alliance that might have supported health reforms and similar projects was simply ripped apart by the anti-Communist movement.
Moderates were afraid of being identified with anything that seemed too radical or controversial, and people to the left of them were either silent or under attack. McCarthyism also contributed to the decrease of reform by helping to deflect the attention of the labour movement, which had been the strongest institution within the old New Deal coalition, from external organization to internal politics. E) Conclusion: The McCarthy era, also known as the American Inquisition, had a dramatic and profound effect on the lives of thousands of Americans during the 1950 s. McCarthyism destroyed the livelihoods, reputations, careers, and homes of many innocent people and created a national hysteria. Although the media played an important role in bringing public attention to the issue of Communism in America, there was a great shortage of reliable information at the time.
Like most people, journalists were afraid to criticize McCarthy or the government’s actions for fear of being blacklisted. Across the country there was a blanket of silence because no one wanted to say anything that could be construed as being controversial.