Thursday, February 9, 1950, while addressing a Republican women's club in Wheeling, West Virginia, Joseph R. McCarthy, the junior senator from Wisconsin, waved a sheet of paper, telling the gathering that it was a list of fifty-seven “known Communists” working in the State Department. Although the paper was blank, his actions at that meeting, along with subsequent allegations on his part, initiated a pogrom of sorts that before it was over would cost many people their jobs and sully the reputations of uncounted others. What made his “witch-hunts” possible was a climate of fear in the country — a climate whose immediate origins lay in the political instability that grew out of the depression of the 1930s and the creation by the Congress of, first, a Special Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities and Propaganda in the House of Representatives and, second, its replacement in 1945 by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Throughout this period until the beginning of McCarthy's downfall during his investigation in 1954 of supposed subversion in the U.S. Army, anyone who advocated peace or coexistence with the Soviet Union became an object of special attention for the forces of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Throughout the McCarthy era, Du Bois continued his critique of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
Although he was acquitted because the government was unable to prove its contention, his treatment by the authorities gave him even more reason to intensify his activities in the cause of peace while it increased his bitterness toward the United States as a less-than-democratic society. See also: Socialism/Communism.
Schrecker, Ellen. The Age of McCarthyism. Boston: Bedford Books, 1994.
William M. King