McCarthyism and the Red Scare

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To quote the song, "Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe."  Indeed, McCarthy was a fairly potent part of the 1950s, with his pursuit of Communists in the second Red Scare.  McCarthy understood the power of insinuation and suspicion, and in a politically charged atmosphere, grasped how being able to successfully work through "the politics of blame," one can make quite a career for themselves in politics.  McCarthy's House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) sought to expose Communists on the stand and under oath.  The committee's work ended up being successful for a time, until the power of television, which worked to bring McCarthy fame and success, ended up taking him down when journalist Edward R. Murrow used his position and the medium to expose McCarthy for the blustering and intimidating fraud he truly was.

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Joseph Raymond McCarthy was a senator for the state of Wisconsin from 1947-1957.  He spent his early life on a farm in Wisconsin and later he joined the military.  In the military McCarthy quickly became a lieutenent because of his education.  He worked as an intelligence briefing officer while in the Marine Corp.  In the 1950s, during his term as state senator, he became popular for stating that there were large numbers of communists and Soviet spies living in America.  He claimed that our government was being infiltrated by undercover communists. The term McCarthyism was coined because of the effect he had on the nation.  It is now used to describe unsubstantiated acussations about someone or something. In December of 1954 the government began censoring McCarthy.  This was done to help eliminate the effect he was having on the US population.  In 1957, at the age of 48 he died from Hepititis most likley caused by alcoholism.

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Joseph McCarthy was a senator from the State of Wisconsin in the 1950s.  He is very famous historically because he was deeply involved in looking for communists in the United States.  He believed that there were many communists in the US trying to undermine our system of government.  That is why that era (when there was a lot of worry about communism) is called the McCarthy Era, or the time of McCarthyism.

McCarthy is best known for claiming that there were specific numbers of communists in various parts of the American government.  He made himself famous going after them.

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