1. Origins and context
When McCarthyism appeared soon after WWII, it was during the Cold War era, a time (as you already know) of political, military and economic tension between the USSR and its allies and the United States and its allies.
McCarthyism became known as the political practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason to thewestern allies without the need for evidence.
The term is associated with the period in the history of the United States known as the Second Red Scare.
Between the late 1940s and the late 1950s, there was widespread hysteria and fear of communist influence on American institutions and of Soviet Spies.
The term was originally used to criticize the anti communist actions of the senator, butsoon took on the meaning of the old English term 'witch hunts'.
February 19th, 1950, on the occasion of a conference, Senator J. McCarthy attacked communism with virulence. According to him, the communists represented a world danger but also a plague within American institutions.
He asserted that communist spies had infiltrated the Administration and had taken important postswithin the government. He thus encouraged all the Americans to lead a crusade to unmask these traitors who put in danger the life of the Nation.
Contrary to all expectations, this silly speech without any foundation was going to spread through all the United States. McCarthyism was born. It was going to plunge the United States into a real fever of denunciations and libel.
1.3 Introduction to McMcCarthy
Joseph Raymond McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as a Republican senator. He was Catholic and had Irish origins. He was considered as a bon vivant and also a player and a big drinker. But, this man also made the United States tremble during four years. He was a liar who invented all of his biography to his advantage.
McCarthy was onlytaking up the dread of the post-war years and the fear of the USSR, which was well established. From 1950, the American constitution was in great danger because any citizen could be arrested on simple denunciation.
2. The political ascension of McCarthy (1950-52)
2.1 The Wheeling speech
On February the 9th, 1950, on the occasion of Lincoln Day, Senator Joseph McCarthy gave a speech in frontof the Republican Women's Club of Wheeling in West.
The first part of speech resumed the classic themes of the conservative Right, the immorality of communism, the weakness of the United States in front of the Soviet Union. It is a reiteration of the speech pronounced by Richard Nixon, on January 26th, 1950, in front of the House of Representatives.
It is the second part of speech that wasgoing to strike at the American opinion. McCarthy denounced the activity of communists within the most strategic places of power, the Department of State. He claimed to possess a list of 205 of them: I have here in my hand a list of 205 (…) names that were made known to the Secretary of the State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy inthe State Department”
On February 11th, 1950, McCarthy sent a letter to President Truman where he suggested communicating to him the names in his ownership, but the number of the names was reduced to 57.
We decided to give you that speech of Joseph McCarthy because according to us it shows well the context of the cold war (the sentences underlined in yellow) the potential power of the US(sentences underlined in blue) and overall the text emphasizes his hatred against communism and the rich (sentences underline in pink).
Although he sounds like a man who is proud of his country McCarthy may have been using this crusade to make his enemies in the establishment weaker and help himself stay in power.
2.2 The Tydings Commissions
The Tydings committee, or in other words, the...