“McCarthyism” was the name given to campaigns led by the Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy to root out communist sympathizers and agents in government, particularly the State Department. Although McCarthyism proper began with his infamous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in February 1950, in which he declared he had a list of names of known communist agents working in the State Department, the anticommunist hysteria had already begun in 1947 with the hearings held by the House Un-American Activities Committee in Hollywood, California, and in the case of Alger Hiss. McCarthyism provided easy answers to such questions as why America “lost” China to the communists and how the Soviet Union was able to develop its own atomic bomb. The mood was sustained by the outbreak of the Korean War and McCarthy’s own adept use of the media. The McCarran Internal Security Act in 1950 was intended to identify subversives, and McCarran’s investigation of people like John Stewart Service in 1951 also was aimed at identifying “loyalty risks.” The publication of Red Channels (1950) and the blacklisting of people named as communist sympathizers, ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Aaron Copland to Edward G. Robinson to Orson Welles merely added to the hysteria. However, the army hearings in which McCarthy was exposed before huge television audiences and the conclusion of the Korean War brought an end to the more extreme aspects of what many described as a “witch hunt”—the inspiration for Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch hunts, The Crucible in 1953.

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

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  • McCarthyism — prop. n. [from Senator Joseph McCarthy, who repeatedly asserted without evidence that numerous communists were present in the United States government.] Unscrupulously accusing people of disloyalty (as by saying they were Communists). [WordNet… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • McCarthyism — 1950, with ISM (Cf. ism) + name of U.S. Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (1908 1957), leader of U.S. anti Communist agitation. The term is said to have been coined by Washington Post political cartoonist Herbert Block ( Herblock ). The surname is from Ir …   Etymology dictionary

  • McCarthyism — ► NOUN ▪ a campaign against alleged communists in the US government and other institutions carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy from 1950 4. DERIVATIVES McCarthyite adjective & noun …   English terms dictionary

  • McCarthyism — ☆ McCarthyism [mə kär′thē iz΄əm ] n. [after J. McCarthy, U.S. senator (1946 57), to whom such practices were attributed] the use of indiscriminate, often unfounded, accusations, sensationalism, inquisitorial investigative methods, etc., as in the …   English World dictionary

  • McCarthyism — A 1947 propaganda comic book published by the Catechetical Guild Educational Society raising the specter of a Communist takeover McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for… …   Wikipedia

  • McCarthyism — Joseph McCarthy Die McCarthy Ära (benannt nach dem Senator Joseph McCarthy) war in der jüngeren Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten eine Ära, die durch intensiven Antikommunismus geprägt war. Sie wird auch als Second Red Scare bezeichnet.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • McCarthyism — Mc|Car|thy|is|m n [U] in the US in the 1950s, McCarthyism consisted of searching for and removing from public employment anybody who people thought might be a Communist. Senator Joseph McCarthy was responsible for this process. Many of the people …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • McCarthyism —    Joseph Raymond McCarthy (1909 1957) was born in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, graduated from Marquette University, and, after passing the bar examination, was elected a local judge. In 1946 he was elected to the United States Senate, where, after a… …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • McCarthyism —  Character assassination. Joseph McCarthy was a senator from Wisconsin in the 1950s who gained national attention by his claims that the State Department and other agencies of the U.S. government were full of communist sympathizers.  ► “He [Bob… …   American business jargon

  • McCarthyism — noun Etymology: Joseph R. McCarthy Date: 1950 a mid 20th century political attitude characterized chiefly by opposition to elements held to be subversive and by the use of tactics involving personal attacks on individuals by means of widely… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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