Topics in the News
Cold War: The Bomb
Its Public and Political Acceptance.
After U.S. bombers shocked the world in August 1945 by dropping horrendously destructive atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II, the administration of President Harry S Truman pledged never again to introduce atomic weapons into a conflict. By November 1950, however, the president was reconsidering. Responding to reports by military advisers that A-bombs could shorten the Korean War by efficiently destroying Soviet military bases in Asia and forcing the Soviet and Chinese Communists to think twice before intervening, Truman made veiled references to the option of atomic force to end the conflict.
Public Support for the Bomb.
If Truman had decided to employ atomic weapons in Korea, he would have had little trouble selling the idea to the American people. In 1949 a Gallup poll determined that 70 percent of Americans were against their government's pledge of no first use. By the winter of 1951, 51 percent supported using the bomb against "military targets" in Asia. As the American fear of Communist aggression grew, so too did infatuation with the bomb as a symbol of U.S. military and technological superiority. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) appealed to the feeling of moral superiority of many Americans in the summer of 1951 when she suggested that the United States "drop the...
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Cold War: The Korean Conflict
A Return to War.
Following U.S. involvement in two world wars within a twenty-five-year period, many Americans thought they had fought their last war when Japan surrendered in 1945. They were wrong. On 25 June 1950 North Korean Communist troops crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. Two days later President Truman said that the United States would oppose Communist
The United States, however, did not want to become the "world's policeman": that was the job of the United Nations (UN). Formed in 1945, the global organization was founded with the purpose of regulating international conflict and, if need be, of bringing the forces of all the nations of the world against any aggressor. Since the end of World War II, however, two rival blocs had arisen: the West, led by the United States, the democratic and free nations of Western Europe, and Japan; and the East, composed mainly of nations with...
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Cold War: Sputnik
Public Fear and Outrage.
Many Americans reacted with disbelief and fear when the Soviet Union launched the world's first man-made satellite into orbit on 4 October 1957: the Soviets—supposedly well behind the United States technologically, militarily, and economically—had managed to beat the Americans into space. Eisenhower, often portrayed as having been caught off guard by Sputnik, noted that it came as a "distinct surprise," but what really shocked him was "the intensity of public concern." Democrats pounced on Sputnik as an issue of national defense. Democratic senator Henry Jackson of Washington described the launch as a "devastating blow to the prestige of the United States as the leader of the scientific and technical world." Some U.S. scientists who had worked for the air force or on the army's missile projects thought the feat unimpressive; still others, including celebrated rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, claimed that Truman had ignored space and as a consequence was responsible for the slow start of the American rocket program. America had focused much of its energy on air-breathing propulsion, especially jet fighters and bombers, not on heavy rockets.
Ike Plays Down
Sputnik. When Eisenhower called an advisory meeting on 8 October 1957 to discuss the event and determine what the...
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Government and Business
Consumerism and the American Dream.
America emerged from World War II as the dominant world power player—not only militarily but economically as well. Ravaged by war, European industry was at a stand-still, and the Continent was open to receive American-made products. At home pent-up consumer demand—caused by government-sponsored rationing during the world war and the Korean War—exploded, and American plants ran at full capacity to provide their customers with automobiles, television sets, household appliances—all the amenities of an American way of life that was becoming increasingly defined by the tastes of a burgeoning middle class with more money to spend. America was evolving into a consumer-oriented society during the 1950s, and the pursuit of modern goods and appliances that made everyday life easier became identified with the American Dream. In 1959, while viewing an American kitchen display at the trade fair in Moscow, Richard Nixon defended this relationship between consumerism and American democratic principles during a spirited, impromptu debate with Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviet leader suggested that the large variety of U.S. products aimed at modernizing domestic life—and Americans' insatiable appetite for these products—had turned the American people lazy, a charge to which Nixon replied: "To us, diversity, the right to choose, the fact that we have a thousand...
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Government and Education
Government Takes a More Active Role.
Public education once had been the sole domain of the state and local governments. Local school boards selected texts, hired teachers, and even determined where children of different colors could attend school. The 1950s, however, brought Uncle Sam into education as never before, dramatically shifting the balance of power between states and the national government and making equal access to education a civil right.
Image Pop-UpActing on the orders of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, the state's National Guardsmen prevented nine black students from enrolling in Central High School in Little Rock on 3 September 1956.
Midcentury White House Conference.
An early indicator that the government planned to take a more active role in education came in December 1950, when the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth convened. Some six thousand delegates and observers attended meetings held to discuss how the American educational system might be improved. The conference recommended increased federal aid to states for education, government support for college tuition, abolition of racial segregation in schools,...
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Nationagl Politics: Election 1950
A Wartime Campaign.
The hot issues during the congressional campaigns of 1950 were inflation and the Korean War, which had erupted in June. In launching their attack on Truman's domestic policies, the Republicans adopted the theme "Liberty against Socialism"; GOP leaders announced that their campaign would oppose Truman's Fair Deal as a program "modeled on the Socialist governments of Europe." Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, likely to be a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952, also joined in the fray by claiming that America suffered from "creeping paralysis" brought on by the increased size of the federal government. The Republicans stepped up their attack in April, alleging that Truman had "lost" China to the Communists. Democrats countered that the Republicans' baseless accusations and their criticisms of the president had compromised national security and made America appear weak in the eyes of the world. The campaign climate turned uglier as Democrats lambasted the GOP for turning its back on schoolchildren and farmers by not having supported federal aid packages for education and agriculture.
Record Voter Turnout.The intensity of the campaign and the immediacy of the issues made for a record voter turnout in an off-year election. Forty-one million ballots were cast, leaving the Democrats in control of both houses of...
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National Politics: Republican Primaries and Convention 1952
1952 Republican Primaries.
Although Eisenhower still had not officially declared his intention to seek the Republican nomination, officials within the Dewey-controlled East Coast Republican-party machine placed General Eisenhower's name on the ballot in New Hampshire, the first—and arguably most important—of the primaries. Eisenhower—or Ike, as he was known politically, to suggest a more congenial image for voters—scored a victory of 46,661 to 35,838 votes over Robert Taft in New Hampshire, despite that Eisenhower had not campaigned and that he had not publicly expressed his positions on the issues. Frustrated Taft supporters spoke of Ike as the "phantom candidate."
On 11 April Eisenhower announced his retirement as head of NATO, and the highly popular general began to campaign actively. Taft finished the primaries with nearly a hundred more delegates than Eisenhower—and only seventy-four more needed to secure the nomination. Yet, opinion polls were showing that Eisenhower enjoyed stronger voter appeal than Taft. "Ikemen" had the political momentum on the eve of the convention and had begun to work on the Republicans in the Harold Stassen and Earl Warren camps, hoping to convince them that a ticket headed by Taft would be unelectable in November.
The California Voting Bloc....
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National Politics: Democratic Primaries and Convention 1952
Estes Kefauver's campaign performance dominated the Democratic primaries. His surprise victory over Harry S Truman in New Hampshire embarrassed the president and quickened his decision not to seek another term. Yet, despite Kefauver's impressive showing in the northern primaries, several of his victories came in states such as Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, where the delegates were required by law to remain unpledged. Furthermore, fellow southerners regarded the famous senator from Tennessee to be a traitor to the white South on issues of segregation—and were eager to hand him a string of defeats in the Dixie primaries. Sen. Richard Russell—a Georgia conservative and an anti—Fair Deal candidate who had campaigned little in the early northern primaries—easily defeated Kefauver in Florida, signaling the South's solidarity in their opposition to the Tennessee senator.
Democrats Search for a Candidate.
The party brass in the northeastern and midwestern urban centers also were prepared to withhold delegates from Kefauver. As chairman of the Senate Crime Investigating Committee, popularly referred to as the Kefauver committee, the Tennessee senator had helped expose the link between organized crime and the big city Democratic bosses. Truman also was less than enamored of Kefauver, who had openly attacked...
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National Politics: Election 1952
Truman did not run for reelection in 1952, his approval ratings in the Gallup poll having dropped to a dismal 30 percent. To test his voter appeal, Truman had placed his name on the New Hamp-shire ballot during the Democratic primaries, but he was defeated by Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. The defeat was a particularly humiliating one for an incumbent president. Americans were tired of the Korean War, continued inflation, and the kind of pork-barrel government spending that many associated with twenty years of Democratic leadership. Truman's political clout had been further undermined by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his cronies, whose sensational charges that the Defense Department was harboring Communists were grabbing headlines and politicizing a fearful population.
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National Politics: Election 1954
Republicans Gain Ground in Congress.
In the Senate the Republicans took a four-seat majority and struck a balance with the Democrats in the House (with Vice-president Nixon counting as the tie-breaking vote). The new Republican National Committee chairman, Leonard Hall, had begun to effect a long-term strategy of solidifying Republican gains by singing the praises of the Eisenhower administration; candidates running on the GOP platform pounded home the message that life was once again good. The Korean War had ended, the dollar was sound, and the administration had made significant strides toward balancing the budget. Republicans also reminded voters of the Democrats' soft record on communism.
Democrats on Defensive.
For the first time in many years, the Democratic political machine appeared to be in disarray as it tried to get out from under the financial and political debts chalked up by Stevenson's unsuccessful 1952 presidential campaign. The Democrats attempted to reunify under National Party chairman Stephen A. Mitchell. Faced with the overwhelming popularity of Eisenhower (whose approval ratings in the Gallup poll had been hovering around 75 percent) and the certainty that relatively large numbers of Republican candidates would hitch a ride into Congress on the president's long coattails, the Democrats strove to distance themselves...
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National Pollitics: Democratic Primaries and Convention 1956
1956 Democratic Primaries.
Preconvention campaigning pitted Adlai Stevenson against Estes Kefauver, who surprised many in his own party by announcing that he would contest key primaries. No longer the shy, reluctant candidate, Stevenson had announced his candidacy in November 1955 with assurances from the Democratic kingmakers that the nomination was his for the taking. Kefauver, however, continued to stress his independence from the party machinery and officially sounded his challenge one month later. He stunned Stevenson in the New Hampshire primary and scored an even more shocking victory in Minnesota, where Stevenson had campaigned heavily with the support of Minnesota favoriteson Hubert Humphrey. Contributing to Kefauver's success was a chatty, grassroots campaign style. Buttonholing a passerby, the Tennessean would offer a firm hand-shake and drawl, "My name is Estes Kefauver. I'm running for President of the United States. I'd sure appreciate it if you'll help me." These homey solicitations of potential voters were often followed up by a letter of thanks.
Baby Kissing and Barnstorming.
Kefauver's campaign of personality galled Stevenson. After the New Hamp-shire and Minnesota losses, he felt that Kefauver had played down the issues and instead had turned the political race into a baby-kissing contest—a contest that the often...
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National Politics: Republican Convention 1956
From 20 to 23 August, Republican delegates convened in San Francisco's Cow Palace to rally around Ike, whose immense popularity most believed would ensure victory in the November polls. Those who tuned in to watch the convention witnessed none of the acrimony that had transformed the '52 convention into nail-biting political drama. Even the "Dump Nixon" movement that had been spearheaded by administration official Harold Stassen failed to raise any serious doubt about the vice-president's claim to a renomination. Party leaders had moved quickly to portray Stassen as a lone renegade and his attempt to oust Nixon as inept. Indeed, on nomination day Stassen found himself in the awkward position of having to bow to the demands of Republican brass and deliver a seconding speech for Nixon's nomination.
"Spontaneous" demonstrations—prearranged months in advance and commandeered on the convention floor by the Young Republicans—created an atmosphere more often associated with a campaign stop than a party convention. Even the convention politics surrounding the formation of a party platform signaled unanimity among the delegates: easily approved, the platform sang Ike's praises and listed his good works in office.
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National Politics: Election 1956
Eisenhower and Nixon ran for reelection against a Democratic ticket that was once again headed by Stevenson. Senator Kefauver was the Democrats' vice-presidential nominee. Stevenson had outdueled Kefauver during the Democratic primaries and went on to win the nomination over Gov. Averell Harriman of New York at a raucous party convention. Southern Democrats had split with northern liberals over a civil rights platform, but a compromise was finally reached. Kefauver emerged from the convention on the offensive, attacking Republicans for fostering racial segregation and challenging Eisenhower to put a unilateral end to H-bomb testing. The Democrats also continued to champion the causes of labor in 1956 and pressed for a fourday workweek. But, in fact, they had little ammunition with which they could attack the Republicans on the domestic economic front. Under Ike the rate of inflation had been reduced to 1 percent, and the middle class continued to grow and prosper. A congressional battle over farm price supports in early 1956, however, gave a Democratic ticket an issue which had strong appeal with the Middle American voter: Democrats wanted support payments to be doled out under a fixed rate; Ike wanted that rate to be flexible. In April, Eisenhower vetoed a farm bill that had been heavily amended by the Democrats, who found themselves cast as the party sympathetic to the...
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National Politics: Election 1958
In the off-year elections of 1958 the voters handed the Republican party its worst political defeat in over twenty-five years. The congressional polls sent Democrats to Washington in droves, creating a new Congress in which Democrats would outnumber Republicans in both houses by nearly two to one. Results in the gubernatorial campaigns added to the Republicans' humiliation: the Democrats picked up six governor seats; the Republicans lost five.
Sensing voter discontent over unemployment and fear that America was losing the cold war, a revitalized Democratic party had launched a highly aggressive campaign that was not afraid to take on the White House. The issue of a "missile gap"—the belief, created by the 1957 launching of Sputnik, that the Soviets had better rockets and more of them—had damaged Eisenhower's approval ratings, which dropped below 60 percent. Ike was vulnerable to wide-spread criticism for the first time in his presidency, and Old Guard and Eisenhower Republicans alike found themselves on the defensive in an election year.
Attacking Republicans on the
Domestic Front. The charge that Eisenhower had not been vigilant enough in protecting U.S. interests in the global arena allowed Democrats to accuse Ike of being out of touch...
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The Press and the Presidency
White House-Press Relations.
The relationship between the executive office and the White House press corps has always been more or less adversarial, as newshounds spar with administration officials who seek to control the flow of information from the White House. Prior to the 1950s, however, the White House held a clear advantage in its information battle with reporters. Presidents effectively managed the news by dictating to reporters the kind of questions that could be asked—and how they could be asked. Furthermore, meetings between the press and the president often were called at the last minute and held in the Oval Office with newsmen gathered around the president's desk. The setting and the format highlighted the fact that any White House information gathering would be conducted on the president's turf in accordance with his ground rules. Much of this changed radically in the 1950s, and the way was paved for the modern era of White House press coverage.
Truman and the Press.
In April 1950 Truman moved the press conferences from the Oval Office to the old State Department Indian Treaty Room. Reporters were seated ahead of time, would stand when Truman entered, then would once again take their seats. The president conducted a question-and-answer format by calling on reporters, who would identify themselves before asking their...
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Spending and the Federal Government
The Growing Budget.
Uncle Sam has never had trouble spending the taxpayers' money. By 1960 it had more money to spend than ever: the federal budget grew from $42.6 billion in 1950 to $92.1 billion in 1959. After World War II the government had sharply reduced its expenditures on defense from a wartime high of $83 billion in 1945 to $42.7 billion in 1946. By 1950 national defense spending—at $13.7 billion—only consumed approximately 35 percent of federal government outlays. Although defense spending soared again during the Korean conflict by more than 75 percent, it fell again by 1960 to less than 60 percent. Payments to individuals, which in later decades often meant welfare or social security, remained at roughly 30 percent of the government's outlays during the 1950s. The budget category "All Other"—which included spending on education, highways, and, toward the end of the decade, nonmilitary space projects—started at more than 10 percent and shrank to approximately 7 percent, with net interest making up the difference.
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Spending at the State and Local Levels
Throughout his two terms as president, Eisenhower worked to curb the size of government. But an entirely separate layer of government bureaucracy had grown at the state and local levels. In 1950 only three states—New York, Pennsylvania, and California—had general revenues and borrowing over $1 billion; state governments' total revenue and borrowing exceeded $13 billion, with tax revenues topping $11.8 billion. By 1959 seven states exceeded $1 billion in revenues and borrowing, and California hit a whopping $3 billion in revenues. Even states traditionally considered "poor," such as Mississippi, took in more than $320 million. By 1960 general revenues and borrowing by the states exceeded $27 billion, of which taxes accounted for only $18 billion.
Local and State Spending.
States dramatically increased their spending on highways over the decade, going from $567 million in 1950 to more than $7.3 billion in 1960. Expenditures on education soared; local funding of public secondary education in 1950 constituted 66 percent of all funding, while state and federal spending comprised 33 percent. A decade later local funding of public secondary education fell by 5 percent, and state and federal spending rose by 5 percent. In 1950 state spending on education and transfers for education totaled $2.8 billion; by 1959 it had...
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Acheson, Dean 1893-1971
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, 1949-1953
Controversial Secretary of State.
Although considered one of the most successful architects of American foreign policy, Dean Acheson won many enemies by ignoring public opinion. Some blamed Acheson and his policy of Communist containment for American entry into the Korean War. Others such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy accused Acheson of being soft on communism for not having been vigilant enough in protecting U.S. interests in China. Acheson was often pressured by members of both political parties to resign. His Old World demeanor and English attire made him an easy target for those who thought him to be effete and out of touch.
A protege of Felix Frankfurter at Harvard Law School, Acheson first worked in Washington as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis. He subsequently became a partner and a leading figure in the powerful Washington lawfirm Covington and Burling. He entered government service during World War II, when he became assistant secretary of state with the responsibility to help manage the land-lease program, which provided $39 billion in aid to American allies. Under Harry S Truman, Acheson was promoted under-secretary of state in 1945 and then to secretary of state in 1949 suceeding George Marshall. He contributed heavily to both the Truman...
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Eisenhower, Dwight D. 1890-1969
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 1953-1961
Ike's Presidency Reconsidered.
Dwight D. (" Ike") Eisenhower was once portrayed as a dull, somewhat lazy president; in a 1962 poll of historians he was ranked twenty-second of thirty-one presidents. In the minds of more-recent historians, however, Ike is considered to have been a shrewd, moderate, sensible, deeply patriotic man—and today is ranked often among the top ten of U.S. presidents. Eisenhower could campaign with Richard Nixon but distance himself from Nixon's partisan and often inflammatory rhetoric. Eisenhower, above all others, could warn of the threats posed by the "Military-Industrial Complex" at a time when the American public was responding favorably to calls for increased defense spending.
Role as President.
His reputation as a donothing president in part was due to his belief in governmental noninterference in state and local politics. He did not believe that as president his role was to initiate social change. Instead, he believed his...
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Harriman, William Averell 1891-1986
NEW YORK GOVERNOR, 1954-1958
A longtime government administrator and ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1943 to 1946, Averell Harriman, along with Dean Acheson, supported the "peace-through strength" approach to dealing with the Soviet Union as President Harry S Truman's special adviser in 1951 and 1952.
Averell Harriman was born into one of the wealthiest families in America. His father had amassed a $100 million fortune in the railroad and ship-ping businesses and had founded one of the leading Wall Street investment houses. Educated at Groton and Yale, Harriman was an international businessman before he entered government in 1941 as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's special representative to oversee land-lease assistance to Great Britain. In 1943 he became the first U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. He was subsequently ambassador to Great Britain, secretary of commerce, and President Truman's special representative to oversee distribution of funds under the Marshall Plan. Harriman brought a wealth of international experience to the political arena.
Presidential Candidate and New York Governor.
Harriman unsuccessfully challenged Adlai Stevenson for the 1952 Democratic presidential nomination. In 1954, however, he was elected...
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Hiss, Alger 1904-
ALLEGED SPY FOR THE SOVIET UNION
A Career in Government.
To many, Alger Hiss is a symbol of cold-war tensions and anticommunism run amok in the late 1940s and 1950s. As a highly placed State Department official, who also had access to secret documents pertaining to American national security, Hiss had represented the United States in some of the most crucial meetings of the post-World War II era. He had accompanied President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference in 1945; helped create the United Nations, serving as temporary secretary-general at the San Francisco Conference later that year; and served as principal adviser to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations.
Accused and Tried.
On 3 August 1948 Whittaker Chambers, an editor at Time magazine and former Communist, appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and testified that in the 1930s he had been a part of a Communist cell that included several government officials—Hiss among them. Hiss denied the allegations and, after Chambers repeated his claims, sued Chambers for libel. During a pretrial hearing, the Hiss-Chambers affair took on more significant meaning when Chambers contradicted his HUAC testimony in claiming that the Communist cell had engaged in spying and that Hiss had stolen government documents. To...
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Kefauver, Estes 1903-1963
DEMOCRATIC VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 1956
Reputation as a Grassroots Campaigner and Antimob Crusader.
As a candidate for the 1952 and 1956 Democratic presidential nominations, Estes Kefauver employed a grassroots style of campaigning that won the hearts of many who had grown tired of party-machine politics. The senator from Tennessee had won a national reputation as a political crusader in 1950-1951, when he headed up a Senate investigative committee on organized crime. In 1939 Kefauver easily won a House seat.
An Independent Thinker.
Despite having been sent to Washington with the help of Tennessee's Democratic party machine, Kefauver soon established his independence as a political thinker. His voting pattern on issues of civil rights often ran counter to that of his southern colleagues. In 1942 he voted for anti-poll tax legislation (the poll tax being one method used by racist whites to keep poor blacks away from the voting booth), and in so doing he provoked the ire of Mississippi's fiery prosegregationist legislator, John Rankin, who pointed a finger at the Tennessean and shouted, "Shame on you, Estes Kefauver." Rankin's famous line would be used many times again on the House and Senate floors and in party conventions to denounce the man who was quickly gaining a reputation as a liberal southern...
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McCarthy, Joseph Raymond 1909-1957
U.S. SENATOR, 1947-1957
Beginning with a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, on 9 February 1950 in which he claimed to have a list containing the names of 205 known Communists in the U.S. State Department, Republican senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin became synonymous with investigations of Communists. He took the Senate floor later that month to elaborate on his accusations. During his series of speeches to the Senate, McCarthy's numbers varied, ranging from 205 to 57 Communists. When challenged by majority leader Democratic senator Scott Lucas to "name them all," McCarthy responded that "it would be improper to make the names public until the appropriate Senate committee can meet in executive session and get them.… If we should label one man a Communist when he is not a Communist, I think it would be too bad." Critics labeled those comments window dressing: McCarthy, they argued, never had any evidence. Nevertheless, in making his claims McCarthy soon emerged as one of the most powerful—and most feared—men on Capitol Hill. He had touched a nerve in an American people already fearful of...
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Nixon, Richard M. 1913-
VlCE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 1953-1961
Reputation as an Anticommunist Crusader.
Nixon entered the national political spotlight in the late 1940s as the man most responsible for exposing Alger Hiss, a former State Department official and alleged Communist spy. Although Nixon was mostly moderate and internationalist in his political sentiments, the Hiss case made the young California congressman the darling of the Republican party's right wing. During the 1950s he capitalized on his reputation as a crusader against communism in his rise to the Senate and to the vice-presidency.
Role in the Hiss-Chambers Affair.
In 1946 Nixon challenged Democratic representative Jerry Voorhis for his House seat. Nixon scored an upset victory over the five-term incumbent after having conducted a hard-hitting campaign in which he subjected Voorhis to red-baiting. As a Republican representative, Nixon served as chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee, responsible for investigating charges made by Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor at Time magazine and a former Communist. In his...
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Stevenson, Adlai Ewing 1900-1965
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 1952,1965
Democratic Presidential Hopeful.
In the 1950s Adlai Stevenson came into the national limelight as a successful Illinois governor who battled the excesses of McCarthyism and as the Democratic heir apparent to President Harry S Truman.
The Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956, Stevenson ran campaigns that became famous for his eloquent stump speeches and for the candidate's emphasis on issue-oriented substance rather than on style and image. In early 1952 Truman asked Stevenson to run for the nomination, but Stevenson refused. Instead, he wanted to return to the governor's mansion in Illinois and finish the programs he had started. Despite his many statements that he did not want the presidential nomination, even with Truman's support, Stevenson was drafted on the third ballot.
Often hailed as one of the most intellectual men ever to run for the presidency, Stevenson,...
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Taft, Robert Alphonso 1889-1953
Emerging as Leader of Republican Conservatives.
The son of twenty-seventh U.S. president William Howard Taft, Robert A. Taft entered the political arena as assistant general counsel to food administrator Herbert Hoover during World War I. In 1938 he was elected to the Senate from Ohio, running on an anti-New Deal platform. After the end of World War II Taft emerged as a leader of a Republican conservative wing that opposed prounion legislation and spearheaded efforts to lower top tax rates. Yet despite his immense power on Capitol Hill, he failed in his 1952 bid against Dwight D. Eisenhower for the Republican presidential nomination.
"Mr. Republican," as he was called, was often at loggerheads with the Truman administration over the proper response to the Soviet threat. He opposed, for example, overseas military commitments, arguing that the United States was better off relying on nuclear power to deter the Soviets and that U.S. defense policy should first concern itself with the defense of home soil. During the Korean War Taft continued to criticize...
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People in the News
On 21 January 1950 Whittaker Chambers, former editor of Time magazine, told reporters, "my work is now finished.… I have told the FBI all I know," after a federal jury in New York found Alger Hiss, a former State Department official whom Chambers had accused of spying for the Communist underground, guilty of perjury.
On 27 April 1955 Gen. J. Lawton Collins, special envoi to Vietnam, said the United States faced a "strange" and "almost an inexplicable situation" in trying to fight communism in Asia.
On 24 September 1957 Texas governor Price Daniel criticized the use of federal troops to integrate Little Rock Central High School, calling the action "reminiscent of the tactics of Reconstruction days."
On 16 February 1955 U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles assured the exiled Nationalist Chinese government in Formosa that it would "not be forcibly taken over by the Communists" of mainland China.
In a 13 February 1950 speech Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said that the increasing size and power of the federal government was a "creeping paralysis" and a greater danger to freedom than the atomic bomb.
On 17 June 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Tennessee Valley Authority an example of "creeping socialism."
On 24 September...
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Ralph Henry Ackerman, 64, U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic (1948-1952), 12 January 1957.
Warren R. Austin, 78, U.S. Ambasador to the United Nations (1946-1954) October 1956.
William Augustus Ayres, 84, congressman (D.) from Kansas (1915-1921, 1923-1935), and member of Federal Trade Commission (1934-1951), 17 February 1952.
Robert M. Barnett, 57, U.S. government personnel expert and liaison officer with the International Labor Organization, 1 January 1953.
Roy Hood Beeler, 72, Tennessee attorney general since 1932, 23 September 1954.
Charles Wayland Brooks, 59, U.S. senator from Illinois (R) from 1939-1948, 14 January 1957.
Joseph R. Bryson, 60, congressman (D) from South Carolina, 10 March 1953.
William Thomas Byrne, 75, congressman (D.) from New York (1935-1951), 27 January 1952.
David D. Caldwell, 83, special assistant to the U.S. attorney general, specialist in government procedure, 4 March 1953.
Ralph Henry Cameron, 89, U.S. senator (R) from Arizona (1921-1927) and leader in Arizona's drive for statehood while a territorial delegate, 12 February 1953.
Raymond J. Cannon, 60, congressman (D.) from...
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Max Beloff, The American Federal Government (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959);
Ralph Barton Berry, The Citizen Decides: A Guide to Responsible Thinking in Time of Crisis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1951);
Daniel J. Boorstin, The Genius of American Politics Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953);
Chester Bowles, American Politics in a Revolutionary World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956);
Franklin L. Burdette, Readings for Republicans (New York: Oceana, 1960);
Noel fairchild Busch, Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois: A Portrait (New York: Farrar, Straus & Young, 1952);
Marquis William Childs, Eisenhower for President? or, Who Will Get Us Out of the Mess We Are In? (New York-Exposition Press, 1951);
Horace Coon, Triumph of the Eggheads (New York: Random House, 1955);
Elmer Holmes Davis, But We Were Born Free (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954);
Robert J. Donovan, Eisenhower: The Inside Story (New York: Harper, 1956);
John Foster Dulles, War or Peace (New York: Macmillan, 1950);
Arthur Alphonse Ekich, The Decline of American Liberalism (New...
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Important Events in Government and Politics, 1950–1959
- J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, publicly opposes the creation of a national police agency to control domestic communists.
- On January 25, Alger Hiss, the State Department official under investigation for his communist ties, receives a five-year prison sentence for perjury.
- On February 9, at Wheeling, West Virginia, the politically obscure senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) charges that there are "a lot" of communists working and making policy in the United States State Department.
- On March 8, Senator McCarthy lists fifty-seven communists he claims are employed in the State Department.
- On March 28, President Harry S. Truman launches an investigation into officials cited by Senator McCarthy as communists.
- On June 6, Senator McCarthy claims that at least three top officials in the State Department are communists.
- On June 15, David Greenglass confesses to providing the Soviet Union with information on the U.S. atomic bomb program.
- On July 5, for the first time since World War II, American troops go into battle in an effort to stop communist North Korea from overwhelming South Korea.
- On July 17, Julius Rosenberg, a former Army Signal Corps engineer, is arrested by the FBI on the charge of atomic espionage for...
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