1954 McCarthy Hearing

Rosenbergs behind mesh
McCarthy in the center

Senator Joeseph McCarthy claimed to uncover Soviet spies in all areas of the government. Nearly everyone was terrorized of him until he started accusing the US Army, that was a step to far and resulted in his downfall.


The actions of Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin led Americans to coin the term, "McCarthyism." McCarthy regularly claimed that he had uncovered Communist agents. In February 1950, at a Washington press conference, he waved sheets of paper declaring that he had discovered 205 communist agents in the State Department. He was soon accusing target after target of communism and creating an atmosphere of paranoia in Washington.

While many disagreed with McCarthy, few dared to oppose him. In 1953, his attention to the Voice of America and the United States Information Agency forced the removal, and sometimes the burning of books, from U.S.I.A. library shelves. Finally, in 1954, McCarthy took on the US Army, claiming that the army was protecting suspected communists.

The McCarthy Army hearings helped to end the senator's career. They were the first of the hearings to be televised, and Americans who watched McCarthy in action from their living rooms were shocked. Furthermore, McCarthy's virulent attacks on the US Army finally convinced President Eisenhower to take action against the senator.