What was the Cold War?

Generally the term “Cold War” refers to a battle between two forces without the involvement of weapons but rather a competition between the forces to see which will end up on top. In the case of the cold war post World War II which began in 1945, the two forces were The United States of America and the Soviet Union. After World War II struck the world, the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union united as one to conquer the Nazis. In order to defeat the Nazis the U.S. and Great Britain began researching nuclear weapons and planning to create some of their own. With the difference between Communism, which the union supported, and Socialism, which the other two supported, holding the three countries apart, the United States and Great Britain decided not to tell the Soviet Union about their researching ideas. Due to this the Soviet Union became infuriated and the Cold War broke out. Up until the Cold War’s end, the Union and the U.S. battled in ways such as trying to be the first country to send a man to the moon, being the country to create nuclear weapons in the most quick and effective way, and proving that their beliefs in either communism or democracy were the best way of life. At the end of the war in 1991, the communist bloc was destroyed and the United States came through as the world’s only super power. However, they had hardly any idea of what they were going to do with their power and little sense of direction. (Phillips and Axelrod)

What was McCarthyism?

McCarthyism was a "witchhunt" for communist that took place during the 1940's and 1950's. The term comes from the name of the most prominent man of the time, Joseph McCarthy.

Who is this Joseph McCarthy that you speak of? And what makes him so important?
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Joseph McCarthy was born on November 15, 1908. When he entered high school he had completed the four year curriculum in 9 months. Because of this he was accepted into Marquette University. In 1942 he joined the armed forces as a first lieutenant. During this time he was an intelligence officer and aided in bombing missions. He resigned from the military in 1945. At the age of 38, McCarthy won the 1946 election in to the Senate, making him the youngest senator at the time. On February 9, 1950, McCarthy "made the first series of claims that he had the names of 'known communist' who were in the employ of the State Deparment." His aim was for national publicity and not for the wellfare of the nation. Some of his methods were publicly televising the trials and accusing entertainers of the time for being communist sympathizers for refusing to give names of other so-called "communist." Another method was when people would start to find the case in favor of the defendant, he would find another "case" as a scapegoat to cover up the last one. Due to the fear of being called out and having their careers ruined; few stood up against him. This being the reason for why his irrational actions went on for over 5 years.


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McCarthyism and the Crack-down on communists in the 1950's
Who were his victims?
During the 1950’s Joseph McCarthy became one of the most popular public face for being an extreme anti-comunist and this suspicion started right after the Cold War. McCarthy was also knonw for making claims saying that there was a large number of comunists and Soviet spies in the United States, putting all of us in great danger. This means that his victims were the ''anti-communists" and Soviets. This new event was called McCarthyism" because Joseph McCarthy started the whole thing. Later on this led to new commitees like the HUAC that they all had the same purposes and even the Holywood Blacklist.

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What lead to Joseph McCarthy's eventual downfall?

Even though a lot of senators knew that Joseph McCarthy’s campaign was a scam, most of them were afraid to challenge him because he had a lot of support. McCarthy attacked the U.S. government and it came back through Joseph Welch. Welch showed how McCarthy faked photographs and falsified documents. This damaged McCarthy so much that Democrats got control of the Senate in 1954. They investigated abuse of office, and by December 2, 1954, they criticized McCarthy for attacking senators. McCarthy’s influence on people was demolished. After this, he started drinking heavily for many years. On May 2, 1957, he died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was 48 years old.

Vassilev, Rossen V. "McCarthy, Joseph." In Dewhirst, Robert E. Encyclopedia of the United States Congress. New York Facts On File, Inc., 2007. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

Wilson, Richard L. "McCarthy, Joseph." American Political Leaders, American Biographies. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

"Joseph McCarthy." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 3 Jan 2008, 19:17 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 Jan 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joseph_McCarthy&oldid=181929952

Goldman, Eric. The Crucial Decade- and after: America, 1945-1960. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1961.

"McCarthyism."American Masters. 17 Dec. 2007 <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/mccarthyism.html>

Phillips, Charles and Axelrod, Alan. "Cold War." Encyclopedia of Wars. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE52&iPin=EWAR0423&SingleRecord=True> (accessed December 17, 2007)