Free To Be

By | Mar 8, 2012

The late 1940s and into the late 1950s was a time when free speech was not considered appropriate if one wanted to speak for Communism. This was a period that now has the been called McCarthyism. A period that saw people suffering with loss of employment, destruction of their careers, and even imprisonment.

McCarthyism takes it name from Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who became the voice of the movement. A movement that actually begun before his name was placed upon it. His first major involvement came in a a Lincoln Day speech to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia on February 9, 1950 saying that he had a list of names of people in the US State Department who members of the Communist Party and shaping Government Policy.

The Washington Post coined the term McCarthyism in a Political Cartoon by Herbert Block that was published on March 29, 1950.

As a result to this speech the United States Senate convened the Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees or by its more common name the Tydings Committee. The committee chaired by Maryland Senator Millard Tydings held hearings between March 8 and July 17, 1950. The outcome was that the persons on McCarthy’s list were neither Communists nor pro-communist.

Even with this declaration McCarthy continued his crusade against Communists and the Democratic Party, which he felt were too soft on Communism.

On March 9, 1954 Edward R. Murrow, a CBS newscaster, See It Now special entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy” criticized McCarthy and McCarthyism showing how many times McCarthy contradicted himself. This lead to the beginning of the end of Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism. McCarthy would die on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48 from an official cause of death of acute hepatitis, commonly thought as being brought on by alcoholism.


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