USA: 1945-1975 - Land Of Freedom?  McCarthyism And The Fear Of Communism

As a part of GCSE History students will learn about the USA between 1840 and 1975. The final part this section covers from 1945 until 1975 and this is the first of four quizzes on that topic, focussing in particular on McCarthyism and the fear of Communism in post-war USA.

There had been a previous "Red Scare" in the USA just after the Great War. The fear of Communism that swept the country after the Second World War was more serious. From 1950 to 1954 Senator Joseph McCarthy (after whom McCarthyism is named) conducted a powerful campaign against alleged Communists at the heart of the American government.

Test your knowledge of McCarthyism and the fear of Communism in post-war USA in this quiz.

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  1. McCarthy launched his career as a "Red-baiter" in February 1950, when he alleged in a speech that there were no less than 205 communists in one of the Federal Government's departments. Which department was this?
    McCarthy often changed his mind about the precise numbers of Communists in any one location, but he alleged their presence in several government departments
  2. What do the following people all have in common? Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs.
    The Soviet Union had acquired the "A" bomb by 1950. The US authorities believed that they must have received help from Western scientists
  3. Which of the following US politicians had their careers launched by assisting McCarthy in his enquiries?
    McCarthy employed an army of assistants to help him to incriminate his victims. Some of them went on to make successful careers in the law, while others carved out political careers
  4. Further damage was done to McCarthy when he presided over a televised inquisition of a much respected American institution. The result was widely regarded as inconclusive. Which institution was this?
    For McCarthy nothing and no one were sacred, but on this occasion he seemed finally to have met his match
  5. McCarthy used a pre-existing committee of the House of Representatives to question those who fell under his suspicion. What was this committee called?
    McCarthy used this body as his platform to allege a massive Communist conspiracy at the very heart of the US establishment
  6. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was an enthusiastic supporter of McCarthy's work. What was his name?
    The FBI was responsible for domestic security and the investigation of organised crime
  7. Which US body condemned McCarthy by 65 votes to 22 in 1954?
    This hostile vote was effectively the beginning of the end for McCarthy. Even the incoming Republican President Eisenhower had little time for him
  8. Anti-Communist investigators drew up "blacklists" of suspects, including one of 300 people in the entertainment industry. In which part of the industry were they said to be working?
    Once blacklisted in one of these areas the victims found it very hard to find another job
  9. Those called before the Committee were asked the following question: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?" What nickname was given to this question?
    Sometimes victims cited the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution as a reason not to answer this question for fear of incriminating themselves
  10. For which US state was McCarthy a Republican senator?
    As a member of Congress McCarthy was in a powerful position to conduct his campaign

Author: Edward Towne

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