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Joseph Raymond McCarthy
|United States Senator
January 3, 1947 – May 2, 1957
|Preceded by||Robert M. La Follette, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||William Proxmire|
November 14, 1908|
Grand Chute, Wisconsin
|Died||May 2, 1957
|Spouse(s)||Jean Kerr McCarthy|
Joseph Raymond McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period in the United States in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion.
He is known for alleging that numerous Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers had infiltrated the United States federal government, universities, film industry, and elsewhere. Ultimately, the smear tactics that he used led him to be censured by the U.S. Senate. The term "McCarthyism", coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy's practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist activities. Today, the term is used in reference to what are considered reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.
Born in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, McCarthy commissioned in to the Marine Corps in 1942, where he served as an intelligence briefing officer for a dive bomber squadron. Following the end of World War II, he attained the rank of major. He volunteered to fly twelve combat missions as a gunner-observer, acquiring the nickname "Tail-Gunner Joe".
McCarthy successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1946, defeating Robert M. La Follette Jr.. McCarthy rose to national fame in February 1950 when he mentioned in a speech that he had a list of "members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring" who were employed in the State Department. In succeeding years after his 1950 speech, McCarthy made additional accusations of Communist infiltration into the State Department, the administration of President Harry S. Truman, the Voice of America, and the U.S. Army.
One of the strongest bases of anti-Communist sentiment in the United States was the Catholic community, which constituted over 20% of the national vote. McCarthy identified himself as Catholic, and although the great majority of Catholics were Democrats, as his fame as a leading anti-Communist grew, he became popular in Catholic communities across the country, with strong support from many leading Catholics, diocesan newspapers, and Catholic journals.
On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67–22, making him one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. He continued to speak against communism and socialism until his death at the age of 48 at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland on May 2, 1957. .
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