1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy begins Communist witch hunt

The first event of Communist interrogation happened in March 1951. Film star Larry parks was questioned by a congregational committee investigating Communist activity in America. Parks admitted that he joined in 1941 because it was the most Liberal party he could find. The committee the asked parks to name people who attended party meetings, Parks refused and the committee then threatened to hold him in contempt.

Nearing the end of his term after being elected in 1943, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s first term was criticized as unimpressive. McCarthy searched for ways to keep his political success alive, a Roman-Catholic friend by the name of Edmund Walsh, suggested a “crusade” against so-called underground communist. McCarthy agreed and took advantage of the nations wave of terror against communism, and on February 9th, 1950, McCarthy came forth with a list of people in the State Department who were known members of the American Communist Party. The American public then went crazy over the thought of communists living within the United States, and urged for the investigation of the underground advocates. Some of the people on the list were in fact not communist. Regardless, for two years McCarthy continued to interrogate and question innocent citizens and multiple government departments, the panic rising from the so called “witch-hunts” and fear of communism became known as McCarthyism.


McCarthy's downfall finally began in October of 1953, when he started to investigate “communist infiltration into the military.” The actions against the military was the final straw for the president at the time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who realized that McCarthy’s anti-communist actions needed to be stopped.

Even though that Communism had a lot to do with the Cold War, and that McCarthy was trying to rid of Communists in the United States, the events that took place and the actions the McCarthy took are not looked at as heroic.

website - Joseph McCarthy


"McCarthy, Joseph R." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2011.
Rose, Cynthia. American Decades Primary Sources. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Print.
Sherrow, Victoria. Joseph McCarthy and the Cold War. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch, 1999. Print.