History Department


History 303: Research and Writing Seminar in History


Andrew Morris


The Second Red Scare, starting in 1947, continuing through the 1950s and into the early 1960s, can be described as a contemporary witch hunt. McCarthyism, described as “a method, a tactic, an attitude, a tendency, a mood, a hysteria, an ideology, and a philosophy,” was in full force as Senator Joseph R. McCarthy began to play on the panic the public felt regarding the USSR and communism. McCarthy dedicated five years attempting to expose communists and other “left-wing loyalty risks” within the U.S. government. Due to the “hyper-suspicious atmosphere” of the Cold War, even insinuating disloyalty was enough to convince Americans that their government was packed with Commies and Reds. McCarthy’s accusations were so intimidating that few people dared to speak out against him. It was not until he attacked the Army in 1954 that his actions earned him the censure of the U.S. Senate. And though he was removed from politics in the mid-1950s, the hysterics revolving around labeling supposed “Communists” began to infiltrate many institutions, including the university systems in the United States. Due to McCarthy’s reckless allegations, many professors, administrators, and students fell victim to the plague of McCarthyism. Thomas C. Reeves, “McCarthyism: Interpretations since Hofstadter,” The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Autumn, 1976): 47, accessed January 31, 2016,