Joseph McCarthy

Joseph McCarthy

Outagamie County, Wisconsin, USA
Death 2 May 1957 (aged 48)
Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Burial Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, USA
Memorial ID 691 · View Source
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US Senator, Anti-Communist Crusader. He was elected as a Senator from Wisconsin to the United States Senate, serving from 1947 to 1957. During his ten years in the Senate, he and his staff became notorious for aggressive campaigns against people in the United States Government who were suspected of being Communists or Communist sympathizers, during the Cold War. Born in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, to a farming family, he worked his way to a law degree from Marquette University from 1930 to 1935, and passed the bar exam in 1935. He worked for a law firm in Shawano, Wisconsin, and was elected as a circuit judge in 1939. In 1942, during World War II, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, and became an aerial observer in the South Pacific, which led to his later nickname, "Tail Gunner Joe" (observers often flew their missions in two-seater Navy dive bombers, occupying the position normally taken by the plane's tail gunner). In 1946, after the war, he ran for Senator, narrowly winning against the Democratic candidate, Howard MacMurray. His first term was largely unremarkable, and he supported such issues as housing legislation and an end to the wartime sugar rationing. On February 9, 1950, he made a speech to the Republican Women's Club of Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he accused the government of employing 206 (or 57, depending upon the source) communist sympathizers who should not be employed by the United States government. From 1950 to 1953, Senator McCarty accused the government with failing to purge communists within its ranks, which gave him a large and powerful national following. Ironically, in 1995, after the fall of Soviet communism and the declassification of broken Soviet codes (Project Venona), historians determined that there were actually 349 Americans working as spies for the Soviet Union in the United States government in this period; to date, none of them have actually been tried for espionage. On September 29, 1953, he married Jean Kerr, one of his staff researchers. With the 1952 elections going strongly to the Republicans, Democratic opposition targeted McCarthy. The newly established Republican administration under President Dwight D. Eisenhower viewed McCarty's continuing claims of communist infiltration of the government with alarm and as embarrassing to the new administration. After Senator McCarthy attacked the United States Army for its failure to purge communists from its ranks, the Senate began an investigation, which was broadcast live on television. In December 1954, the Senate voted 67 to 22 to condemn McCarthy for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute." Although the majority of opposition to him came from the Democrats, many Republicans also disliked his tactics and voted to censure him. A heavy drinker, his censure drove him to alcoholism, and he died just three years later, a broken man. The term "McCarthyism" was coined specifically to describe the intense anti-Communist movement that existed in the United States between 1948 and 1956, a time which historians now call the Second Red Scare. During this period, people who were suspected of being communist or communist sympathizers became the subject of aggressive witch-hunts, sometimes based on inconclusive or questionable evidence. Media writers, Hollywood actors, writers and producers, career politicians, government bureaucrats and even military personnel were targets of McCarthyism-style tactics, although Joseph McCarthy himself limited his attacks only to the United States government and not the private sector.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 691
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph McCarthy (14 Nov 1908–2 May 1957), Find a Grave Memorial no. 691, citing Saint Marys Cemetery, Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .