Joseph Raymond McCarthy was a U.S. senator who during the early 1950s conducted a highly controversial campaign against supposed Communist infiltration of the U.S. government. His accusations and methods of interrogation of witnesses came to be called "McCarthyism," a term that remains a part of the U.S. political vocabulary. Though he was ultimately censured for his activities by the Senate, McCarthy was, between 1950 and 1954, the most powerful voice of anti-COMMUNISM in the United States.
McCarthy was born November 14, 1908, in Grand Chute, Wisconsin. He graduated from Marquette University in 1935 with a bachelor of laws degree. He practiced law in Wisconsin until 1939, when he was elected a circuit court judge. During WORLD WAR II, McCarthy served in the Marine Corps as a tailgunner. He progressed to the rank of captain and was awarded several commendations for his military achievements.
McCarthy used his wartime record as "Tailgunner Joe" to help upset Republican Senator ROBERT M. LAFOLLETTE Jr., in the 1946 Wisconsin primary election. McCarthy was elected to the Senate in 1946 and reelected in 1952.
During his first three years in office, McCarthy was an undistinguished and relatively unknown senator. He catapulted to public attention, however, after giving a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in February 1950. In the speech, McCarthy charged that 205 Communists had
infiltrated the STATE DEPARTMENT. He claimed that Communist subversion had led to the fall of China to the Communists in October 1949. A Senate investigating committee ordered McCarthy to produce evidence of his accusations, but he was unable to produce the names of any Communists.
"THE FATE OF THE WORLD RESTS WITH THE CLASH BETWEEN THE ATHEISM OF MOSCOW AND THE CHRISTIAN SPIRIT THROUGHOUT OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD."
Despite this failure to produce evidence, McCarthy escalated his anti-Communist crusade. He accused Democratic President HARRY S. TRUMAN's administration of harboring Communists and of failing to stop Communist aggression. His accusations struck a chord with many U.S. citizens,
who were fearful of the growth of Communism and the menace of the Soviet Union as well as angry at the U.S. government's apparent inability to prevent the spread of Communism.
In 1953 McCarthy became the chair of the Senate's Government Committee on Operations...