Joseph McCarthy: Telegram to President Harry S. Truman

(1950)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

McCarthy followed up his speech in Wheeling with a telegram to President Truman reiterating his charges that a “nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers” was shaping American foreign policy. Although a State Department official had denied McCarthy's allegations, McCarthy reminds Truman of Truman's own loyalty program aimed precisely at “weeding out fellow travelers.” Making it difficult for the president to deflect the thrust of the Wheeling speech, McCarthy compliments the Truman program's identification of hundreds who were security risks. McCarthy understood that Truman, a Democrat, would be especially concerned about the charges of a Republican senator intent on amplifying the anti-Communist cause and questioning the executive branch's will to rid itself of subversive employees. What makes McCarthy's indictment of the federal government especially disturbing is the apparent specificity of his evidence—the fifty-seven names,...

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Joseph McCarthy (Library of Congress)

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