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60k to 10k

from 1948 to 1957

Estimated membership of the Communist Party U.S.A.

Joseph McCarthy


McCarthy was a Republican American politician in the 50’s and was elected senator in 1947.

Along with lending his name to the phenomenon, he is the face of McCarthyism. At a time where communism was most feared, he accused the US government of being infested with them : communists, and provided several lists.

McCarthyism :

"a campaign against alleged communists in the US government and other institutions carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 50's."


Senator McCarthy's accusations of communism already being deeply rooted in America, and most specifically the US government itself, allowed him to create fear and doubt in the minds of Americans. This is how this political repression begun ; through fear, posing communism as a threat, the Red Threat. McCarthyism is often compared to witch hunting, because innocent people would be accused of things they often didn't do, and had little to no way of defending themselves. Indeed, one wrong step and people could be classified as potential communists. And if they did, they were left with no choice but to tell what they knew about other potential communists around them.


feb. 9, 1950

McCarthy gives the Wheeling Speech

nov. 25, 1947

The Hollywood blacklist was created

april 22, 1954

McCarthy starts broadcasting his accusations, televised speeches

dec. 2, 1954

Senate votes for McCarthy to be censored

oct. 1947

Hollywood ten

may 1938

Creation of the HUAC, or House Committee on Un-American Activities (so communists)


dates of

“Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity.”

People would lose or get turned down from jobs if their names were on the list. They were only allowed off the list if they gave what the government wanted from them : names. Some went along and accused other people of being communists, while others never complied.

The Hollywood ten were ten producers and filmmakers who were suspected of being communists who refused to answer questions and to testify in front of the HUAC. They were Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo and most of them ended up in prison for a few months, as well as on the blacklist.

McCarthyism ended in 1954 when McCarthy's popularity decreased, since a lot of what he was saying was turning out to be false and his speeches even started to get censored.