February 9, 1950

Wikimedia Commons

History.com: On February 9, 1950, “during a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy (Republican-Wisconsin) claims that he has a list with the names of over 200 members of the Department of State that are ‘known communists.’ The speech vaulted McCarthy to national prominence and sparked a nationwide hysteria about subversives in the American government.”

“In the next few weeks, the number fluctuated wildly, with McCarthy stating at various times that there were 57, or 81, or 10 communists in the Department of State. In fact, McCarthy never produced any solid evidence that there was even one communist in the State Department.”

“Despite McCarthy’s inconsistency, his refusal to provide any of the names of the ‘known communists,’ and his inability to produce any coherent or reasonable evidence, his charges struck a chord with the American people.”

“‘McCarthyism,’ as the hunt for communists in the United States came to be known during the 1950s, did untold damage to many people’s lives and careers, had a muzzling effect on domestic debate on Cold War issues, and managed to scare millions of Americans. McCarthy, however, located no communists and his personal power collapsed in 1954 when he accused the Army of coddling known communists. Televised hearings of his investigation into the U.S. Army let the American people see his bullying tactics and lack of credibility in full view for the first time, and he quickly lost support. The U.S. Senate censured him shortly thereafter and he died in 1957.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.