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Comparison of Cold War to Mccarthyism in The United States

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Before the Cold War, the United States fought as allies with the Soviet Union. After the war in Europe ended this alliance began to crumble. These tensions were first apparent at the Potsdam Conference and the Union were determined to set up pro-communist authorities in several other countries. These two powers knew that there was a struggle to maintain their influences were in danger. This war could be defined as a series of ongoing issues and constant tension between the two global superpowers. One major event that occurred was the space race to prove superiority to the other power. Meanwhile the Union beat us to the moon but they did not gain much power from this. Another major event that occurred and was one of the only weapon driven battles during the Cold War was the Arms Race. The Arms Race was when the Atomic bombs started taking off and the race to who could make the most was on. The whole division was fueled off of communism. The United States did not want Europe to be a communist country and the Soviet Union thought that it should. Joseph McCarthy was a procommunist republican senator that initiated the idea of McCarthyism. This arose the thought in Americans that communism was a negative thing. Later McCarthyism turned Americans away from communism and the Americans sought to get rid of McCarthy.

At the beginning of the Cold War the race for superiority began. The start of direct communication from leader to leader began and the misinterpretations ceased due to the fact that the two powers were talking directly. This allowed for a lot of the excess hatred between the United States and the Soviet Union to also cease. As the Cold War continues McCarthy begins to emerge in his power and the Americans began to see him make a name for himself through the interviews he does and him testifying before committees. After hearing and seeing McCarthy the Americans specifically began to fear him and his tactics, as the threat of McCarthyism began to rise and freedoms begin to fall due to McCarthy, Americans came to the conclusion that communism was a negative thing. This is what caused fear in many Americans along with the idea that the nation would fall to Communism and McCarthyism. Along with these two things Americans already feared, McCarthy along with the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) led witch-hunts that particularly searched for Communist sympathizers. If someone was accused they were confronted with two options the first one being refusing to testify and potentially losing their friends and more importantly their jobs. The second option was to join the accusers and accuse their own friends and family of being communist. The Cold War was a conflict driven war with minimal confrontations with the opposing side, but filled with propaganda and a race for superiority and who was better between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Finally, the United Sates President was able to communicate with the Soviet Union. On August 11th, 1952 Harry S. Truman and George F. Keenan began their conversation. The letter on August 11th was a very long telegram with lots of information and viewpoints of the Soviet Union. One thing Keenan stated in his telegram was, “The thing that strikes me hardest here is the extent to which the Soviet Government has lost contact with the west. There simply is no real channel for any exchange of views; and while we maintain a big embassy here in the middle of Moscow, we are so cut off and hemmed in with restrictions and ignored by the Soviet Government that it is as though no diplomatic relations existed at all” (Telegram, Keenan, 1952). Keenan is responding to a previous request from the president to write and share his impressions from the Union from time to time. This communication allows the Union and the United States to keep up to date about each other. President Truman sent a replying telegram over stating how much he enjoyed the letter that was sent over. He said that it was very informative and thanked him for sharing what their condition and relation with the Soviet Union was.

During the Cold War the Soviet Union and the United States did not have much communication. A few telegrams were sent back and forth but most communication was through secondhand sources. Senator McCarthy was a Republican United States Senator that was pro communism and from the state of Wisconsin. McCarthy was a driving force to transform the United States from Capitalism to Communism. A telegram was sent from Senator McCarthy to President Truman discussing the idea of communism. Senator McCarthy’s telegram to President Truman stated “In the Lincoln day speech at Wheeling Thursday night I stated that the State Department harbors a nest of communists and communist sympathizers who are helping to shape our foreign policy. I further stated that I have in my possession the names of 57 communists who are in the State Department at present. A State Department Spokesman.” This telegram between the two was sent over on February 11th, 1950. McCarthy’s telegram to the President included names of many communist who were employed with the State Department, but McCarthy was never able to provide proof that there were communists working with the State Department. There was another telegram that entailed President Truman’s reply to the telegram sent by McCarthy stating, “I read your telegram of February eleventh from Reno, Nevada with a great deal of interest and this is the first time in my experience, and I was ten years in the Senate, that I ever heard of a Senator trying to discredit his own Government before the world. You know that isn’t done by honest public officials. Your telegram is not only not true and an insolent approach to a situation that should have been worked out between man and man but it shows conclusively that are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States. I am very sure that the people of Wisconsin are extremely sorry that they are represented by a person who has as little sense of responsibility as you have.” This telegram was more than likely unsent but that details and proof on yes or no has never been declared.

Senator McCarthy spoke in front of many committees. One committee that he spoke at was the subcommittee hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator McCarthy is photographed in a photo from this committee hearing on March 9th, 1950. McCarthy is mid-sentence with a finger pointing to something in front of him while sitting at a table. There are many other guests and/ or committee members present at this hearing that are all paying attention to McCarthy. McCarthy sets many things in motion at this meeting and is resulted in the creation of a larger Office of Secretary that was now able to hold more resources and responsibilities. McCarthy began to lie about the number of communist he could recruit, and was never able to provide a set number of communist employed at the Department (Photograph, Associated Press. 1950). One occasion he accused the United States Army for pampering known communists. After this occasion in 1954 his power was reduced because he had no located communist that followed him. Senator McCarthy was seen on television on the “Longines Chronoscope” interview program on June 25th, 1952. The topics in this interview were campaigns in Wisconsin for both Presidential and Senatorial positions, the Communists in the Federal Government, and McCarthy’s book, McCarthyism ”The Fight for America”. One of the interview comments/ questions was, “You’re probably the most controversial figure on the American political scene. McCarthy and McCarthyism are well-known words. I’m sure our audience is very much interested in your political career, so tell us about the campaign in Wisconsin”.

Americans began to fear the idea of McCarthyism which is the action of accusing peoples of treason or subversion without any proof or evidence of such action. Many Americans feared that the nation would fall to communism just as the Soviet Union was. Senator McCarthy was a Communist that tried to get the nation to fall into the hands of communism, through many interviews, and public speaking. One interview took place on CBS Face the Nation on November 7th, 1954. In this interview he tried to persuade many committee members to convert to communism and take his side on many occasions. One thing that was asked in the interview was the question that Jep Cadou arose and stated, “…several days ago you said that the Senate would censor you and that the cards were stacked against you. How do you feel about that now and if you feel the same way I ask why senator?” Senator McCarthy responded by stating that he spoke to his democratic friend and he said his vote would be to censor the Senator because McCarthy has labeled the democrat party to be made up of communism.

Due to the fact that the Cold War was such a propagating war political cartoons sparked and they continued to be on the rise after the war. There were many cartoons released when the era of McCarthyism was occurring. One cartoon is titled “One Book That Can’t Be Burned” and pictures a book titled “The Love of Freedom” being engulfed in the flames of hatred, intolerance, ignorance, and totalitarianism. The meaning of this cartoon is that during the Cold War the countries that were communist based regularly practiced censorship and controlled the disbursement of information. So, in the era of McCarthy much effort was made to take away books from libraries to control the information available because they only wanted information from the leaders to be heard and people to not gain knowledge from published books. Book burning is also related to a political opposition and represents an element of censorship. More than likely McCarthy was looking to silence an aspect that contradicts his own ideas in a harsh way.

McCarthyism was an action that caused great fear in many Americans and caused them to be very aware and knowledgeable on this topic. Americans feared of being accused to be communist. When Americans were accused reputations were torn apart and thousands of people lost their job. Many innocent people were accused and many well-known people were summoned to provide names of members who belonged to the communist party. Those who agreed that they were communist and provided other names of members were able to resume their lives as normal. On the other hand those who refused to agree to being a part of communism were cited for contempt and many actors were blacklisted for their jobs in the entertainment industry and it took many many years for them to recover their ruined reputation. Another political cartoon is titled “The Devil’s Disciple”. This cartoon shows a hooded ragged figure, that is dragging a chain with a ball connected to the end that looks similar to a wrecking ball and then in the other hand is a large whip (Political Cartoon, Block, 1954). With the background of postwar tensions from the Cold War and McCarthyism on the rise, the cartoonist reveals that fear alone is a destructive force. Another cartoon by Hungerford on December 3rd, 1953 shows President Eisenhower and McCarthy sitting next to each other and McCarthy has laid out political problems and presenting them to the President. The problems laid out are Foreign Policy, National Issues, and GOP Political Plans.

The Cold War was fueled by the conflicts that occurred between the Soviet union and the United States but only truly had very minimal confrontations with each other, however it was filled with propaganda and a race for superiority and who was better between the two powers. As the Cold War came to a close and the fear in many Americans began to rise, and the United States began to form a nation and began to work out the conflicts. The start of communication aided in the development of the nation and allowed many officials from our nation and other nations to communicate with each other over disputes and disagreements. Senator McCarthy was on the rise and caused an even greater amount of fear in Americans due to his amazing idea of McCarthyism. McCarthy took part in many interviews, public speaking events, testimonials, and hearings from committees. He began to make a name for himself and form a so called group underneath him. McCarthy was involved with many lies and false claims about the number of communist that he actually had. He eventually lost his power and position in the government. Propagation and political cartoons are all the while still on the climb during the postwar era. Many political cartoons reflected on the evil things that McCarthy did and the fear that Americans experienced during the time McCarthy was in office. This time in history was not a joyful time but it was a time that the modern day era will look back on and gain knowledge from.

Works Cited:

  • Block, Herbert, Artist. “Cold War”. [11-14] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • “Sen. Joseph McCarthy on Face the Nation.” Sen. Joseph McCarthy on Face the Nation, CBS News, 7 Nov. 1954.
  • McCarthyism, National Archives, 14 Mar. 1950,
  • Block, Herbert, Artist. “Stop that! McCarthy will demand space for a reply”. [8-31] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • Talbert, Harold M., Artist. The Devil’s Disciple. May 5. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • “Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum.” Truman Library: Correspondence between George F. Kennan and Harry S. Truman, August 11, 1952,
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy Interview Transcript. 25 June 1952,
  • Hungerford, Cy. “An Uncomfortable Situation .” Marshall and McCarthyism, 3 Dec. 1953,
  • “McCarthy’s Charges.” McCARTHYISM AND COLD WAR, Associated Press., 9 Mar. 1950,
  • Marcus, Edwin, Artist One Book That Can’t Be Burned. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  • “Telegram from Senator Joseph McCarthy to President Harry S. Truman.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, 11 Feb. 1950,

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