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Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home
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McCarthyism / The "Red Scare"

 

Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was a little-known junior senator from Wisconsin until February 1950 when he claimed to possess a list of 205 card-carrying Communists employed in the U.S. Department of State. From that moment Senator McCarthy became a tireless crusader against Communism in the early 1950s, a period that has been commonly referred to as the "Red Scare." As chairman of the Senate Permanent Investigation Subcommittee, Senator McCarthy conducted hearings on communist subversion in America and investigated alleged communist infiltration of the Armed Forces. His subsequent exile from politics coincided with a conversion of his name into a modern English noun "McCarthyism," or adjective, "McCarthy tactics," when describing similar witch hunts in recent American history. [The American Heritage Dictionary gives the definition of McCarthyism as: 1. The political practice of publicizing accusations of disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence; and 2. The use of methods of investigation and accusation regarded as unfair, in order to suppress opposition.] Senator McCarthy was censured by the U.S. Senate on December 2, 1954 and died May 2, 1957.

Draft page, "Sixth Draft" of Eisenhower speech given on October 3, 1952 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on "Communism and Freedom" [Stephen Benedict Papers, Box 4, 10-3-52] (The deleted paragraph refers to accusations made by McCarthy against General George C. Marshall and was removed from the speech to avoid causing bad feelings in McCarthy's home state of Wisconsin.)

Letter, Senator Joseph McCarthy to President Eisenhower re James B. Conant as High Commissioner in Germany, February 3, 1953 [DDE's Papers as President, Name Series, Box 22, McCarthy Joseph]

Letter, President Eisenhower to friend, Harry Bullis, May 18, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 317, OF 99-R McCarthy]

Letter, President Eisenhower to friend, Swede Hazlett, July 21, 1953 (pages 3 and 4 only) [DDE's Papers as President, Name Series, Box 18, Hazlett Swede 1953 (1)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to his brother, Milton Eisenhower, October 9, 1953 (page 3 only) [DDE's Papers as President, Name Series, Box 12, Eisenhower Milton 1952-1953 (3)]

Notes from the day by C.D. Jackson, Speechwriter and Special Assistant to President Eisenhower, November 27, 1953 [C.D. Jackson Papers, Box 68, Log 1953 (5)]

Notes from the day by C.D. Jackson, Speechwriter and Special Assistant to the President, November 30, 1953 [C.D. Jackson Papers, Box 68, Log 1953 (5)]

Memorandum, Stanley M. Rumbough Jr. and Charles Masterson, Special Assistants in the White House, to Murray Snyder, Assistant White House Press Secretary, about responding to Senator McCarthy, December 1, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 317, OF99-R McCarthy]

Notes from the day by C.D. Jackson, Speechwriter and Special Assistant to the President, December 2, 1953 [C.D. Jackson Papers, Box 68, Log 1953 (5)]

Diary entry by James C. Hagerty, White House Press Secretary [James C. Hagerty Papers, Box 1, January 1-April 6, 1954]

February 25, 1954
March 8, 1954
March 10, 1954
March 24, 1954

Diary entry by James Hagerty, White House Press Secretary [James C. Hagerty Papers, Box 1, May 1954]

May 12, 1954
May 13, 1954
May 14, 1954
May 17, 1954
May 28, 1954
May 30, 1954
May 31, 1954

Letter, President Eisenhower to Secretary of Defense regarding testimony of Defense Department employees, May 17, 1954 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 25, McCarthy Letters]

Notes by L. Arthur Minnich, Assistant White House Staff Secretary [White House Office of the Staff Secretary, L. Arthur Minnich Series, Box 1, Miscellaneous Mc]

May 22, 1953
July 15, 1953
July 29, 1953
May 17, 1954
November 19, 1954
June 21, 1955

Letter, Asst. Secretary of Defense Fred Seaton to Senator McCarthy regarding accusations of Communists working in defense facilities, June 3, 1954 [Fred Seaton Papers, FAS Eyes Only Series, Box 4, McCarthy (1)]

Diary entry by James Hagerty, White House Press Secretary [James C. Hagerty Papers, Box 1, June 1954]

June 8, 1954

Memo by Ann Whitman regarding events leading up to so-called "break" made by McCarthy, December 7, 1954 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 25, McCarthy Letters]

Senate Resolution (S. Res. 116) introduced by Senator Joseph McCarthy, June 20, 1955 [White House Office of the Staff Secretary, L. Arthur Minnich Series, Box 1, Miscellaneous Mc]

Images in the audiovisual collection

Secondary sources on this topic include:

The White House Years: Mandate for Change, 1953-1956 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1963.

Who Killed Joe McCarthy? by William B. Ewald, Jr., Simon and Schuster, New York, 1984.

Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective by Richard M. Fried, Oxford University Press, New York, 1990.

The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate by Robert Griffith, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 1970.

Joseph McCarthy: The Politics of Chaos by Mark Landis, Susquehanna University Press, Selinsgrove, 1987.

McCarthy and McCarthyism in Wisconsin by Michael O'Brien, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, 1980.

A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy by David Oshinsky, Free Press, New York; Collier Macmillan, London, 1983.

Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America by Ellen Schrecker, Little, Brown, Boston, 1998.

For additional information please see:

McCarthyism Subject Guide