What Were Some of the Key Events Related to "McCarthyism"?


Quick Answer

Some key events related to "McCarthyism" in the United States include Joseph McCarthy's rise and fall from power, the inspiration he took from the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the “Army-McCarthy” hearings that appeared on national television. McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin, held investigations to uncover suspected communist-leaning federal employees.

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In 1950, during his first term as senator, McCarthy announced he had a list of 205 State Department employees who had ties to the Communist party. Due to his announcement, an investigation was launched through the Senate, which found no evidence of his claims. He used information from the House Un-American Activities Committee and its tactics to fuel his theories.

McCarthy remained unconvinced following the Senate investigation, and during his second term as senator, he began a series of hearings as head of the Committee on Government Operations. During these hearings, McCarthy interrogated many employees and witnesses, ending with 2,000 government employees losing their jobs.

In 1954, although he received no support from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and many of his Senate peers, McCarthy attempted to expose Communist sympathizers in the armed forces. These hearings appeared on national television, and his behavior toward those in the armed services ruined the public's perception of him, robbing him of any power and the rest of his allies. The Senate voted to condemn him, which did not end his job but effectively ended his career.

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