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The Cause and Effects of McCarthyism

1018 words (4 pages) Essay in Politics

08/02/20 Politics Reference this

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What were the causes and effects of McCarthyism? There were many effects by McCarthyism but not so many causes. McCarthyism affected the whole nation by accusing many people and ruining their lives just cause of Joseph McCarthy’s paranoia towards communism and started making many people in America paranoid as well. So what is McCarthyism? Well it was the enactment of minimizing the warning of communism by charging and detaining defendants. (Study.com)

Yet who was the person behind McCarthyism? Joseph McCarthy was the person who started McCarthyism and who accused many innocent people for being communist sympathizers for close to three years.(Counterpunch.org) So who is Joseph McCarthy? Joseph McCarthy, born on November 14th, 1908, in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, began his career being involved with his political job, a judge. But before he decided to become a Republican senator it all began when he joined the military as a Marine. Till he achieved the rank of captain while he was serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations, which was a major theater of the war between Allies and Empire of Japan. After, he decided to leave the military he then decided to run for the Wisconsin Senate seat. He was elected on the Republican ticket for the U.S. Senate in the year 1946 and was reelected in 1952. (Study.com)

 He also was one of the leaders behind the argument of McCarthyism and who started it. McCarthyism began in the late 1940s and 1950s. Yet It all began with “The Red Scare.”  The Red Scare is what caused Joseph McCarthy’s paranoia towards the Soviets Union and communism yet “The Red Scare” in the WW I gained its popularity from being such a terrible thing.(Study.com) McCarthy’s fear of communism is was what led to a witch hunt, which brought him to panic.  He was so determined with the witch hunt he started questioning and hunting communist sympathizers in the United States but first he looked into governmental departments for over two years.(History.com) He then started spiraling further into his fear and began charging and striking towards many innocent lives of the main level, Hollywood where many famous people lived, such as artists, musicians, writers, and movie stars who he thought would be found supporting communism, and many of the people that were accused even lost their jobs. (Counterpunch.org) Some of the people were accused of communism included Lucille Ball, activist Helen Keller, actor and singer Burl Ives, actor Charlie Chaplin, singer Pete Seeger, etc. (Counterpunch.org) But most notably McCarthy accused Owen Lattimore. But Owen was just a Scholar in Chinese History, who taught at “Johns Hopkins University.”(Wikipedia.com). McCarthy accused Owen Lattimore because he thought he was a soviet spy. Until in World War II the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, established Owen as a representative for the Chinese government but wasn’t a communist (Counterpunch.org)

 Yet in the year 1945 the Potsdam Conference was created.  Yet it was a meeting of Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin, and British leader Winston Churchill, and U.S President Harry Truman discussing the terms to end WWII. The Potsdam Conference” was around the time that made Americans believe that communists were lurking around every corner. Yet in 1947, a couple years after the Potsdam Conference, while during the Cold War over twelve thousand Americans claimed that they were afraid communism was invading on the U.S. and even some people fell into a territory of fear and restraint. During the same year, the Truman Doctrine was created by the president, Harry S.Truman. Truman established the Doctrine for protection among all the families from the communist subversion. Which stated that America “would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat of communism.”

In 1949 eleven leaders that were apart of the Communist Party were declared under the Smith Act which was the Alien Registration Act. The Alien Registration Act was a U.S. federal law that was passed in 1940 that made it a criminal offense to support the savage depose of the government. Only ten of the leaders of the party were given a sentence of five years, the eleventh leader was given one to three years.

About five years later,1954, the Communist Control Act as a warning to the Internal Security Act, which is known as Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, until it sorted out the Communist Party.

Till Joseph McCarthy was confronted by Joseph N. Welch, who was the chief counsel for the United States Army. While the army was on the lookout for communism, Welch confronted McCarthy of accusing the U.S Army. Because of all the hearings McCarthy’s political standpoint started to fall downward.

Until on December 2, 1954 the senate took a vote to expurgate Senate McCarthy, which would have made McCarthy one of the first senators to be regulated in this way. Until the talk of the army became to close McCarthy got exposed as a bully and was finally criticized by the U.S. Senate until December 1954. Yet during the next few years he still talked against communism and socialism while spiraling into alcoholism till he died on May 2, 1957.

So, McCarthyism put people through a lot of things. It also caused many problems including people losing their jobs, and paranoia. But even if McCarthyism caused a lot of problems, thankfully because of Joseph N. Welch, McCarthyism had ended.  Even though it’s still talked about, in reality, it would have never really worked.

Works Cited

  • Study.com, Study.com, study.com/academy/lesson/mccarthyism-and-the-red-scare-definition-causes-effects.html.
  • Cohen, Stanley L. “Decency Lost: McCarthyism Revisited.” CounterPunch.org, 26 Oct. 2017, www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/decency-lost-mccarthyism-revisited/.
  • Editors, History.com. “Joseph McCarthy.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/cold-war/joseph-mccarthy.
  • “McCarthyism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism.
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