AMH Chapter 15 Section 3

American History
Chapter 15
Section 3
Red Scare
• During the 1950s,
Americans were caught
up in the Red Scare.
• It began in September
1945 with Soviet defector
Igor Gouzenko defected
with documents revealing
a Soviet effort to infiltrate
organizations and
government agencies,
looking for information
about the atomic bomb.
What is a “Defector”
• A defector is someone
who escapes their
country for another
country (mostly because
they are being repressed).
• This led to fear of a
Communist subversion,
subversion is an effort to
secretly weaken a society
and overthrow its
Loyalty Review
• In 1947 Truman set up a
loyalty review program to
screen federal employees
to test their loyalty.
• Between 1947 and 1951
more than 6 million
federal employees were
screened for their loyalty
to the U.S. government
and over 2,000 people
lost their jobs.
• The FBI infiltrated
groups and wiretapped
• FBI Director J. Edgar
Hoover urged the
House Un-American
Activities Committee
(HUAC) to hold public
hearings on Communist
• One of the hearings focused
on the film industry and
• The head of the Screen Actors
Guild (union for people in the
film industry), Ronald Reagan
told HUAC that there were
Communist in Hollywood.
Many in Hollywood (actors,
actress, directors,
broadcasters, and
screenwriters) were
blacklisted because of rumor
or they did not provide
testimony to HUAC.
• When someone is
blacklisted, people
don’t want to hire them
for a job because of
their background, they
are basically refused
Hiss Affair
• In 1948 Whittaker
Chambers, a magazine
editor, testified that
several government
officials were spies.
• One the spies was Alger
Hiss of the State
• Hiss denied this charge,
but was later found guilty.
• Hiss was also convicted of
perjury, or lying under
The Rosenbergs
• In another case, Ethel and
Julius Rosenberg were
found guilty of passing
along atomic secrets to
the Soviets.
• The Rosenbergs were
convicted and ultimately
executed for treason.
Evidence later released to
the American public
showed that the
Rosenbergs were indeed
Employers requiring loyalty oaths
• The University of
California required its
faculty members to take
loyalty oaths and fired
those who refused.
• Additionally, the TaftHartley Act of 1947
required Unions leaders
to take loyalty oaths
that they were not
Which side is winning????
• In 1949 the Red Scare
grew worse.
– The Soviet Union tested an
atomic bomb, and China
fell to the Communists.
• Many Americans believed
that they were losing the
Cold War and that
Communists had
infiltrated the
Senator Joseph McCarthy
• In February of 1950,
Senator Joseph
McCarthy claimed that
he had a list of 205
Communists working in
the State Department.
• He accused many
politicians and others of
being Communists.
• He never produced the
list as proof.
The Party of Betrayal
• McCarthy distributed a
booklet called “The
Party of Betrayal,”
which accused leaders
Democratic Party
leaders of corruption
and protecting
McCarran Act of 1950
• The McCarran Act was passed in 1950.
– This law required all Communist organizations to
register with the government.
• The groups were also forced to share their
records with the government.
• The law stopped Communists from getting
passports or traveling abroad.
• It stated that they could be arrested during
• Truman tried to veto the bill, but Congress
overrode the veto. The bill became law.
More Investigations
• In 1952, after
Republicans won
control of Congress,
McCarthy became
chairman of the Senate
subcommittee on
• McCarthy forced
government officials to
testify about
Communist influences.
Witch Hunts
• McCarthy turned the investigations into witch hunts
based on weak evidence and fear.
• He destroyed reputations with unfounded charges.
• This became known as McCarthyism.
• McCarthy would badger witnesses and refuse to accept
their answers.
• His methods left a sense of suspicion and guilt about
the witnesses.
• People were afraid to challenge him for fear of
becoming targets themselves.
Questioning the military????
• In 1954 McCarthy began to question members of
the United States Army.
• McCarthy’s investigation was aired on television,
and millions of Americans watched.
• McCarthy’s popularity decreased as people finally
challenged him and his methods.
• In 1954, the Senate passed a vote of censure
(formal disapproval) against McCarthy—one of
the most serious criticisms it can level against a
Senate member.
End of McCarthyism
• McCarthy’s influence
was gone, he faded
from public view and
died in 1957.
• He used the fear of
communism to increase
his own power and
destroy the reputations
of many people.
Why the Red Scare…scared people
• The Red Scare and the
spread of nuclear
weapons shaped
everyday life in the
United States during the
• Americans were upset
when the Soviet Union
tested the powerful
hydrogen, or H-bomb.
• They began to prepare for
a surprise Soviet attack.
• To protect themselves
from a nuclear bomb,
some families built
backyard fallout shelters
and stocked them with
canned goods.
• Students also practiced
bomb drills called “duckand-cover” drills.
Not enough protection
• Experts warned that
these measures would
not protect people from
the initial blast or the
fallout—the radiation
left after the blast.
• For each person killed
by the blast, four more
would die from fallout.
Influencing Cinema
• The fear of communism influenced American
movies and fiction.
• Worries about nuclear war and Communism
fed people's imagination and soon appeared
in popular fiction among other media.
• Many movies focused on FBI activities in spy
cases and novels described the effects of
nuclear war.

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