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Why did Senator Joseph McCarthy have such a big impact on American politics and society in the 1950s?

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Why did Senator Joseph McCarthy have such a big impact on American politics and society in the 1950's? There was such a fear of Communism in the USA before McCarthy became famous in 1950 because of the 'Red Scare' which was the name given to the widespread fear of Communism that swept across America in the late 1940's and 50's. The Americans feared Communism as it had already spread to Russia, East Europe, South East Asia and even China which was a big country. They then began to think 'What was to stop America from becoming Communists?' Also the following events contributed to the fear of communism: The Development Of The Cold War At The End Of WW2 The Cold War was so called as it was a period of great tension but it didn't involve any fighting. ...read more.


China was a big country the Americans thought what is going to stop Communism going to America. The Russians exploded their first Atomic Bomb Up to this point only America had this technology. "Had America been betrayed by the enemy within? Had Communist Sympathises in America sold atomic secrets to the Russians?" North Korea Invaded Pro-American South Korea South Korea believed that if it wasn't checked by America, Communism would take over the world. America went to war to prevent this from happening. The Hiss Case Hiss had worked for President Roosevelt and there had been allegations and evidence made against him for spying for the Communists There was an increased risk of spies in America. ...read more.


McCarthy claimed he had a list of 207 known Communists but when investigated the list went down to 57. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) was set up which investigated Communist involvement in the film industry, education, unions and the government. Ten Hollywood film directors were questioned over whether they were members of the Communist party. They refused to answer questions and were all jailed for a year. McCarthy had such an impact on the USA as he ruined so many people's lives as he accused them of being Communist. 9,500 civil servants were dismissed and 15,000 resigned, 600 teachers lost their jobs and many fine actors and scriptwriters were unable to work again. Also anyone who was liberal, a trade unionist, or a civil rights worker who had shown sympathy for the poor was automatically known as a 'commie'. ...read more.

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