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McCarthyism: Reds in America. Loyalty Review Board. Truman’s response to Republican claims he was soft on communists Board was to determine if any government employee was disloyal to the government 91 “subversive” groups listed – membership drew suspicion

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Loyalty review board
Loyalty Review Board

  • Truman’s response to Republican claims he was soft on communists

  • Board was to determine if any government employee was disloyal to the government

  • 91 “subversive” groups listed – membership drew suspicion

  • 3.2 million investigated – 212 dismissed – 2900 resigned

    • Felt civil rights violated

    • Never allowed to see the evidence about them

Mccarthyism reds in america

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) – A congressional committee that investigated charges of communism inside and outside U.S. government agencies

  • Went after movie industry – claimed that they used propaganda (looked at films made during WW2 that were pro-Soviet)


  • Hollywood Ten – ten witnesses that refused to cooperate on grounds that the hearings were unconstitutional – they were sent to prison

  • Hollywood executives responded with a blacklist of those individuals that they deemed were communists

  • McCarran Internal Security Act – unlawful to plan any action that might lead to the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship

    • Truman vetoes act that it is unconstitutional to punish men for their opinions

    • Congress enacted law over Truman’s veto

Spies among us alger hiss
Spies Among Us – Alger Hiss

  • Former State Department official

  • Accused by Whittaker Chambers (former Communist spy) of spying for the Soviets

  • Chambers produced microfilm of government documents claimed to have been typed on Hiss’s typewriter

Spies among us alger hiss1
Spies Among Us – Alger Hiss

  • Statute of limitations up for espionage charge – instead convict him of perjury

  • Richard Nixon prosecuted Hiss

  • 1990s Soviets released cables that confirmed Hiss’s guilt

Spies among us the rosenbergs
Spies Among Us – The Rosenbergs

Ethel and Julius

  • September 3, 1949 - Soviets explode atomic bomb though U.S. experts had said that the Soviets should still be 3-5 years behind

  • Fear that U.S. individuals were giving Soviets our secrets

Spies among us the rosenbergs1
Spies Among Us – The Rosenbergs

Ethel and Julius

  • German-born physicist, Klaus Fuchs admits giving Soviets info on American atomic bomb

  • Implicated with Fuchs is Ethel & Julius Rosenberg, minor members of the American Communist Party

Spies among us the rosenbergs2
Spies Among Us – The Rosenbergs

  • When asked if they were communists the Rosenbergs plead the fifth amendment

  • Claimed they were being persecuted because they were Jewish and they held radical beliefs

  • They were found guilty of espionage & sentenced to death

  • Worldwide call for clemency that was denied

  • 1st Americans executed for espionage – electric chair


Joseph McCarthy

  • Ineffective Junior senator from Wisconsin

  • Needs issue to get reelected – Communism

  • Made continuous unsupported accusations of Communism - no substantiating evidence


Joseph McCarthy

  • Made all his claims in the Senate – immunity

  • Never produced a name but claimed to have at any time 50-200 names

  • Blamed Democrats for “20 years of treason” – Republicans did not respond – want 1952 presidency


McCarthy’s Downfall

  • Senator Margaret Smith and 5 other senators take him on

  • McCarthy makes accusation against U.S. Army (1954)

  • Televised Senate investigation

  • His bullying tactics cause him to lose public support

  • Condemned by the Senate for improper conduct


McCarthy’s Legacy

  • By 1953 – 39 states pass laws making it illegal to promote the overthrow of the government

  • Laws were later deemed unconstitutional and overturned because of freedom of speech

  • Every industry was investigated for communist activity