McCarthy, Joseph Raymond
(1908-1957)
   Born on a farm near Appleton, Wisconsin, McCarthy left school at the age of 14 to raise poultry. When the business failed, he returned to high school, crammed four years of work into two terms, and entered Marquette University in Milwaukee. He gained a law degree in 1935 and established a legal practice in Wisconsin, but in 1937 he won election as a circuit judge. His victory was achieved partially by questioning the incumbent’s good name, a tactic that was to become a hallmark of his later political career.
   The youngest judge in Wisconsin, McCarthy gained a reputation for efficiency by dealing with business speedily and providing “quickie divorces.” Although exempt from the draft as a judge, Mc- Carthy enlisted in the marines in 1942 and spent World War II as an intelligence officer in the Pacific. He claimed to have suffered wounds as a “tail gunner” when his plane crash-landed under Japanese fire, but his only injury was a broken leg from falling onboard a ship. McCarthy also exaggerated the number of bombing missions he flew in. In 1946, he defeated incumbent Robert M. La Follette Jr. in the Republican senatorial primary election and then won the election.
   McCarthy’s early career in the U.S. Senate was undistinguished. He was nicknamed “Pepsi Cola Kid” for efforts on behalf of the soft drink company. In need of an issue with which to gain attention, he decided on the threat posed by communists. On 7 February 1950, in a speech to a Republican women’s group in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy announced that he had a list of names of known communists working in the State Department. The original number he gave was 205, but it later became 87. Elements of his speech came from an earlier speech by Richard M. Nixon, and the figures were based on government figures following the implementation of the Federal Loyalty Program. McCarthy was also given information by J. Edgar Hoover. He subsequently named Asian scholar Owen Lattimore as a “top Russian agent” but failed to produce a shred of evidence. McCarthy’s charges were dismissed by a Senate investigation headed by Millard Tydings as a “fraud and a hoax,” but it made little difference. The revelations in the Alger Hiss case gave McCarthy’s claims substance, while both the Soviet atomic bomb test and the “loss” of China to communism in 1949 smacked to many people of betrayal. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 also added weight to his views. Fellow Republicans were also happy to benefit from his attacks on the Truman administration as he denounced Dean Acheson for complicity in communist victories and accused General George C. Marshall of being “soft on communism.”
   Reelected in 1952, McCarthy became chair of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, and aided by his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, he held hearings in 1953 investigating several branches of government ranging from the Printing Office to the Foreign Service. However, in the fall of 1953, he began investigating the army, and his charges led to televised Senate hearings in 1954. In front of millions of viewers, McCarthy was revealed as a blustering bully by army counsel Joseph Welch. A documentary by respected television commentator Edward R. Murrow further discredited McCarthy. On 2 December 1954, the Senate passed a vote of censure against him for bringing the chamber “into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy quickly faded from the public eye and died an alcoholic. McCarthyism, however, had had an enormous impact, and its effects lingered for some time.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • McCarthy,Joseph Raymond — Mc·Car·thy (mə kärʹthē), Joseph Raymond. 1908 1957. American politician. A U.S. senator from Wisconsin (1947 1957), he presided over the permanent subcommittee on investigations and held public hearings in which he accused army officials, members …   Universalium

  • McCarthy, Joseph (Raymond) —  (1900–1957) U.S. senator notorious for a prolonged campaign against Communists during congressional hearings, known as the Army McCarthy hearings, in the 1950s …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • McCarthy, Joseph Raymond — ► (1908 57) Político y senador republicano estadounidense. Fue elegido presidente de los jóvenes demócratas en Wisconsin, y senador por Wisconsin en 1946 y 1952 …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Joseph Raymond McCarthy — Joseph McCarthy Joseph Raymond McCarthy (* 14. November 1908 in Grand Chute, Wisconsin; † 2. Mai 1957 in Bethesda, Maryland) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Er gehörte der Republikanischen Partei a …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Joseph Raymond McCarthy — Joseph McCarthy Joseph Raymond McCarthy Sénateur senior, Wisconsin Période de mandat : 3 janvier 1947 – 2 mai 1957 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • McCarthy, Joseph R. — ▪ United States senator in full  Joseph Raymond McCarthy  born Nov. 14, 1908, near Appleton, Wis., U.S. died May 2, 1957, Bethesda, Md.  U.S. senator who dominated the early 1950s by his sensational but unproved charges of Communist subversion in …   Universalium

  • Joseph Raymond McCarthy — noun United States politician who unscrupulously accused many citizens of being Communists (1908 1957) • Syn: ↑McCarthy, ↑Joseph McCarthy • Instance Hypernyms: ↑politician, ↑politico, ↑pol, ↑political leader …   Useful english dictionary

  • Joseph MacCarthy — Joseph McCarthy Joseph Raymond McCarthy Sénateur senior, Wisconsin Période de mandat : 3 janvier 1947 – 2 mai 1957 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Joseph R. McCarthy — Joseph McCarthy Joseph Raymond McCarthy (* 14. November 1908 in Grand Chute, Wisconsin; † 2. Mai 1957 in Bethesda, Maryland) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Er gehörte der Republikanischen Partei a …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Joseph McCarthy — Joseph Raymond McCarthy (* 14. November 1908 in Grand Chute, Wisconsin; † 2. Mai 1957 in Bethesda, Maryland) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Er gehörte der Republikanischen Partei an und wurde bekann …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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