Joseph McCarthy (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: McCarthy was the key figure in what came to be labeled “McCarthyism”—a national furor of divisive concern and suspicion regarding alleged Communists in American government. For four years, he was a dominant figure in American political life, striking fear into his opponents and confusion into the public mind.
Joseph Raymond McCarthy was born November 14, 1908, in Grand Chute, a farming community near Appleton, Wisconsin. He was the fifth child of Tim McCarthy, a farmer of Irish-German background, and Bridget Tierney McCarthy, of Irish stock. The family was devoutly Roman Catholic and poor. Despite some conflict, the family members remained close to one another throughout McCarthy’s life.
As the youngest son, and an ungainly one at that, McCarthy was subject to some mistreatment by his brothers, worked hard by his father, and doted upon by his mother. McCarthy early developed his lifelong traits of combativeness, respect for hard work, and extroversion. He attended the local public school only until age fourteen.
McCarthy’s interests were not academic, however, nor were they agricultural. He wanted to escape his family’s traditional poverty and do so in a manner that would make him independent of the rest of the family. He first worked at farming, then, at age sixteen, he began his own chicken business, which prospered for a while but ultimately failed. At...
(The entire section is 1922 words.)
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McCarthy, Joseph Raymond (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Joseph Raymond McCarthy was a U.S. senator who during the early 1950s conducted a highly controversial campaign against supposed Communist infiltration of the U.S. government. His accusations and methods of interrogation of witnesses came to be called "McCarthyism," a term that remains a part of the U.S. political vocabulary. Though he was ultimately censured for his activities by the Senate, McCarthy was, between 1950 and 1954, the most powerful voice of anti-COMMUNISM in the United States.
McCarthy was born November 14, 1908, in Grand Chute, Wisconsin. He graduated from Marquette University in 1935 with a bachelor of laws degree. He practiced law in Wisconsin until 1939, when he was elected a circuit court judge. During WORLD WAR II, McCarthy served in the Marine Corps as a tailgunner. He progressed to the rank of captain and was awarded several commendations for his military achievements.
McCarthy used his wartime record as "Tailgunner Joe" to help upset Republican Senator ROBERT M. LAFOLLETTE Jr., in the 1946 Wisconsin primary election. McCarthy was elected to the Senate in 1946 and reelected in 1952.
During his first three years in office, McCarthy was an undistinguished and relatively unknown senator. He catapulted to public attention, however, after giving a speech in Wheeling, West...
(The entire section is 679 words.)