On This Day: McCarthyism and the Red Scare

On this day in 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy (Republican-Wisconsin) in a speech in WV, claimed he had a list of individuals in the U.S. government who were known communists. His claims of widespread infiltration of communists and communist sympathizers in the U.S. Government led to nationwide investigations. Senator McCarthy was ultimately discredited and censured by the U.S. Senate in December of 1954. View this collection of videos to learn more about the history and legacy of McCarthyism in the United States.

Origins of McCarthyism

Historian Margaret Brennan talked about Senator Joseph McCarthy's (R-WI) "Enemies from Within" speech and the impact it had on his political career. Senator McCarthy delivered the speech at a Lincoln Day dinner hosted by the Ohio County Republican Women's Club on February 9, 1950, at the McClure Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia. In his speech, Senator McCarthy attacked the Truman administration and accused more than 200 Americans of being members of the Communist Party.

Additional Resource

  • Lesson Plan: The Red Scare and McCarthyism

    This lesson includes events such as the Rosenberg trials, blacklisting in Hollywood and the rise and decline of McCarthyism. Student should have a basic understanding of the early events during the Cold War prior to this lesson.