Containment On The Home Front


  • Labor strikes @ end of WWII brought auto and electronics industry to a standstill
    • Truman warned he would seize control of mines and railroads that had been closed because of strikes
  • Unions became targets for anticommunists
  • Labor-Management Act (Taft-Hartly Act)
    • limited union's power
      • to conduct boycotts and strikes
      • to compel employers to accept "closed shops"
    • Required union officials to sign affidavits that they didn't belong to the Communist Part or other "subversive" groups
    • Truman vetoed, Congress overruled
  • Communist vs. Labor… led to division in Unions
  • By end of Truman era, loyalty checks had been done to 20% of the American workforce

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

  • Expose alleged communist infiltration in Hollywood and government
  • Hollywood 10
    • 10 screenwriters/producers/directors who had been or were in the Communist Party
      • Claimed First Amendment protection from testifying, courts denied the claim and sent them to jail
  • Studio heads drew up blacklists
  • People couldn't get a job in Hollywood until they appeared before the HUAC
    • Naming names, some evoked the 5th
  • Reagan and Nixon first attracted political spotlights
    • Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild and a secret informant for the FBI
    • Nixon, congressman in California
      • Aligned himself with Whittaker Chambers
      • Chambers accused Alger Hiss of espionage (both were Communists)
      • Hiss had been an adviser to FDR @ Yalta
      • Nixon wanted to show that Truman need to crack down on Communism, critics said it was all just overzealous witch hunting
      • Verona Files later (1990's) showed some espionage had taken place in the government
  • Many Government employees were fired
  • J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, drew up a list of alleged subversives and ordered that they be detained without a hearing in the event of a national security emergency


  • Files on artists and intellectuals
    • Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck
    • African Americans artists and writers, like W.E.B. DuBois
  • McCarran-Walter Activities
    • Greater barriers to immigration from areas outside of Western Europe
    • And people who might bring in "dangerous ideas"
  • Anticommunists expanded their hatred to include homosexuals
    • Dr. Alfred Kinsey studied sexuality
    • Kinsey Report
      • found homosexuality in American culture
    • Gays formed the Mattachine Society
    • Lesbians formed the Daughters of Bilitis
    • Both organizations pushed for legal rights


  • Growing evidence of spys operating in the U.S.
    • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were arrested on charges of espionage
      • think Sacco and Vanzetti
      • Ethel innocent, questionable evidence against Julius
      • Both executed
      • just scapegoats?

Dennis vs U.S.

  • Dennis was a communist, passed out pamphlets advocating the overthrow of the government
    • In violation of Smith Act
  • "clear and present danger" changed to "grave and probable danger"
  • Red Scare over by the time of this trial

Joseph McCarthy

  • Republican Senator of Wisconsin
  • believed communists worked in Truman's Sate Departments
  • Made up a list of 200 people in State Department, including Secretary of State Dean Acheson. George Marshall, Millard Tydings
    • No evidence
  • Had support of Roman Catholic Church, Robert Taft
  • McCarthy committee
    • McCarthyism
    • subpoena power, legal immunity
    • bullied hostile witnesses, encouraged experts to exaggerate evidence
  • He grew in popularity until…
  • Army-McCarthy hearings
    • televised
    • Joe Welch to McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency?"
    • discredited McCarthy
  • Murrow
    • Television program,dedicated to investigating McCarthy
    • Good night and Good Luck
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