Joseph McCarthy (14 November 1908 - 2 May 1957) was a Republican Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 to 1957. He is best known for making accusations of membership in the communist party or of communist sympathies against people working in sensitive sectors of the U.S. government.
- Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down — they are truly down.
- As you know, very recently the secretary of state proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes — of being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust. The secretary of state, in attempting to justify his continued devotion to the man who sold out the Christian world to the atheistic world, referred to Christ's Sermon on the Mount as a justification and reason therefore, and the reaction of the American people to this would have made the heart of Abraham Lincoln happy. When this pompous diplomat in striped pants, with a phony British accent, proclaimed to the American people that Christ on the Mount endorsed communism, high treason, and betrayal of a sacred trust, the blasphemy was so great that it awakened the dormant indignation of the American people.
He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of national honesty and decency in government.
- Speech in Wheeling, West Virginia (9 February 1950), as quoted at Civics Online.
- Any man who has been given the honor of being promoted to general and who says, "I will protect another general who protects Communists," is not fit to wear that uniform, general.
- Remark to Gen. Ralph Zwicker during the Army investigations (18 February 1954), quoted in David M. Oshinsky (2005) A Conspiracy So Immense.
- I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.
- Attributed to a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia (9 February 1950), as printed in the Wheeling Intelligencer. At dispute is whether McCarthy claimed 205 names, as many historical accounts say, or 57 names, as McCarthy said on the Senate floor; see Congressional Record (20 February 1950). McCarthy admitted using the number 205 in speeches, but in reference to a statistic for which he had no names. Eyewitnesses to the speech remember him referring to both figures at different points. McCarthy provided a copy of his list to Sen. Millard Tydings on request; it had 81 names, some of which had handwritten annotations. He refused to disclose all of the names publicly unless given access to relevant government files, citing libel concerns. See also Blacklisted from History (2007) by M. Stanton Evans.
Quotes about McCarthyEdit
- Alphabetized by author
- McCarthy was a Republican. The Democrats, however, have skeletons in their own closet and it's worth remembering them, too. For example, Democrat Woodrow Wilson's Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer, who was just as rabid an anti-Communist as McCarthy, did far more to repress free speech and political freedom than McCarthy ever attempted. It wasn't a Republican president who locked up thousands of loyal Americans of Japanese descent in concentration camps for years. It was Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. And it wasn't a Republican who wiretapped and snooped on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but Democrats John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, who signed the order as Attorney General.
- When the wind is right, a faint odor of kerosene is exhaled from Senator McCarthy.
- Ray Bradbury, in Nation (2 May 1953), and quoted in "About Fahrenheit 451 : Historical Influences for Fahrenheit 451"
- Nothing would probably please him more than to get the publicity that would be generated by a public repudiation by the President.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, on declining to publicly confront McCarthy's strategies, as quoted in The Party of Fear (1988), by David Harry Bennett, p. 304
- I will not get in the gutter with that guy.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, as quoted in Robert J. Donovan (1956) Eisenhower: The Inside Story
- The junior senator from Wisconsin, by his reckless charges, has so preyed upon the fears and hatreds and prejudices of the American people that he has started a prairie fire which neither he nor anyone else may be able to control.
- J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas), as quoted in Enough Rope (1969) by Arthur Vivian Watkins
- When public men indulge themselves in abuse, when they deny others a fair trial, when they resort to innuendo and insinuation, to libel, scandal, and suspicion, then our democratic society is outraged, and democracy is baffled. It has no apparatus to deal with the boor, the liar, the lout, and the antidemocrat in general.
- J. William Fulbright, remarks in the Senate (February 2, 1954), Congressional Record, vol. 100, p. 1105.
- In fact, most of what people ordinarily mean when they talk about the 'red scare', the House Un-American Activities Committee; anti-Communist probes into Hollywood, labor unions, and America's schools and universities; the Rosenberg trial; blacklisting in the media and schoolteachers fired for disloyalty, had nothing to do with McCarthy and he had nothing to do with them (although when asked, he generally approved of them, as most other Americans did). McCarthy's own committee in the Senate, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which he chaired for less than two years, had a specific duty to investigate communism in the federal government and among government employees. It had done so before he became chairman, and it did so after he left, under Senator John McClellan and Bobby Kennedy. The men and women McCarthy targeted, rightly or wrongly, as Communists or Communist sympathizers all shared that single characteristic: they were federal employees and public servants, and therefore, McCarthy and his supporters argued, they ought be held accountable to a higher standard than other American citizens. That fact tends to get lost when historians dwell exclusively on the stories of harassment, professional disgrace, and other indignities suffered as a result of McCarthy's and other anti-Communist investigations.
- Arthur Herman, as quoted in "Joseph McCarthy: Reexaming the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator" (1999), by A. Herman, Free Press.
- The hardest thing I ever did was keep my temper at that time.
- Hoover knew that Joe wasn't the best guy in the world to be doing this job. We all did ... But his attitude was, "Thank God somebody's doing it." They were fighting the same enemy, you know.
- Robert J. Morris, as quoted in A Conspiracy So Immense, (2005) by David M. Oshinsky, p. 258; this summation of Hoover's attitude by Morris has since appeared as if it were a direct quote of Hoover.
- 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.… 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 you are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States.
- Harry S. Truman, drafted response (probably unsent) to a telegram received on 11 February 1950. 
- Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness… Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
- Joseph Welch, in response to McCarthy accusing Fred Fisher, one of the employees of Welch's law firm, of being a Communist. (Transcripts and audio of the exchange between Welch and McCarthy