Topic 3:

McCarthyism, "Red Scare"

external image McCarthyism.jpg
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible explores how discrimination caused hysteria during the Salem witch trials in September of 1692. The result of such discrimination was that hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft and imprisoned for months. An additional nineteen people were convicted and executed for the same accusation.
Your task is to do further research on the “Red Scare,” or McCarthyism, of the 1950s and hysteria using the links listed below.
During your research:
  • Analyze the reasons for the hysteria behind McCarthyism and how community leaders responded to it.
  • Answer the questions listed below on your notecards to help you explain this hysteria to your group members, fully citing each source you use on the back of each notecard.
  • Create a complete Works Cited using correct MLA formatting.
  • Prepare to write an essay on your findings on the Crucible Test.

Questions to consider:

1. What events and accusations started the hysteria that led up to McCarthyism?
2. What are some examples of discrimination during the accusations, and to what degree do you think discrimination was a cause of the hysteria?
3. How did local, state, and federal government leaders respond to the accusations and proceedings?
4. How did the general public react to accusations of communism?
Student Questions Handout (PDF)

Research Links:

Letters from McCarthy to President Eisenhower
This site includes links to letters exchanged between President Eisenhower and specific senators and advisors during the “Red Scare” era. You should look specifically at the three page letter written from McCarthy to President Eisenhower (three separate PDFs). However, feel free to read any additional letters for more information about the period.

McCarthyism Definition
This site includes a more detailed description of McCarthyism, addressing the events that led of to the height of the “Red Scare.” Feel free to look at some of the highlighted words for further information. Under the description, there are several newspaper excerpts. Read four excerpts and try to gain a general understanding of the public’s reaction to McCarthyism.

Persons Accused of Being Communists
Scroll down to the section entitled "Blacklisted." This section provides a list of many of the people blacklisted by McCarthy as communists. Look at the profiles of four people on this list. Compare and contrast the type of people who were accused.

Senator Joseph McCarthy
This site includes biographical information about Joe McCarthy, the events that took place during the height of McCarthyism, and the aftermath in the years that followed the hysteria. You should look through the first five bullets (Introduction, 1909-1950, 1950-1954, 1954-1957, and Conclusion)

Red Scare Image Database
This site includes numerous examples of anti-Communist propaganda circulating during the Red Scare, both photographs and political cartoons. Take some time to browse through some of the images for insight into the discrimination that was occurring.