HUAC & The Hiss Case
HUAC- The House of Un-American Activities Committee- set up by the government to ivestigate possible communists. They investigated the Hollywood Ten who refused to discuss their attitudes towards communism and so were arrested.
Alger Hiss- Very high profile within the Government. He was accused of being a communist spy by Whittaker Chambers (Editor of Time Magazine & former communist). Chambers told Richard Nixon (leading member of HUAC) despite having little evidence.
Later that year Nixon went to visit Chambers at his farm, Chambers took Nixon to his pumpkin patch and out of one pumpkin pulled a roll of microfilm showing governemnt documents that had been copied on Hiss' typewriter. These became known as the Pumpkin Papers. Hiss was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison.
McCarran & McCarthy
The McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950- communist parties had to register with the justice department so that they could be monitored, work places available to communists were limited & communists were denied US passports.
Joseph McCarthy- Senator of Wisconsin, made a speech in 1950 saying taht he had the names of 205 communists working in the state department of foreign affairs. As a result The Tydings Committee was set up by the Senate to investigate.
McCarthy became the Chairman of the governemnt committee on operations of the senate, meaning that he was able to investigate who he wished including state bodies.
McCarthy hightened the fear of communism in the US and the period of McCarthyism began soon after his speech.
The Rosenberg's case
Julius & Ethel Rosenberg- Both were suspected of being communist. Julius was a scientist and was accused of giving the Soviets information regarding the atom bomb(which they had first successfully tested a year earlier). Ethel was accused of knowing about it!
They were arrested on 18th July 1950 & sentenced to death despite the lack of evidence and Truman's plea to spare Ethel due to the fact that they had two young boys.
At the time the Korean War had just begun and the fear of communism was at its highest, the Rosenberg's were blamed for this aswell, were they just used as scapegoats to calm the public?
The Fall of McCarthy
3 Democrat members of The Tydings Committee signed a statement (20th July 1950) calling McCarthy's charges 'a fraud and a hoax'.
As a result McCarthy turned on Senator Tydings & charged him with having communist sympathies. McCarthy started producing more and more accusations, they became dramatically wilder and he even began to fake evidence (a photo of Tydings with the communist leader).
Eisenhower (January 1953) set up an investigation into communist beliefs within the Governemnt in order to clear the air, he also moved McCarthy to a less important committe, however McCarthy used this new committee as an anti- communist campaign.
September 1953- the senate began to investigate the army with the hearing broadcast on TV. The public saw McCarthy bullying respectable army officers and so his popularity plummeted. The media also turned on him & on 2nd December 1954 the senate voted to censure McCarthy for improper conduct.
McCarthyism didn't instantly die out & HUAC continued to 'hunt' communists. However in 1954 the communist party was banned and McCarthyism was never as wild again!