1951 June 14

Joe McCarthy Attacks American War Hero, Gen. George C. Marshall


In one of the most outrageous acts in his reckless anti-Communist crusade, Senator Joe McCarthy accused General George C. Marshall of assisting the cause of international Communism. As Army Chief of Staff and military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Marshall was one of the heroes of World War II. He also served as Secretary of State under President Harry Truman (1947–1949) and was the author of the famous Marshall Plan, which was named for him, and which was designed to revitalize the economies of European countries after World War II as a way of fending off Communist influence.

McCarthy’s attack enraged Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marshall’s friend and wartime colleague. In the 1952 presidential election campaign, Eisenhower planned to pay tribute to Marshall in a speech in Milwaukee, but he caved in to pressure from McCarthy and Republican Party leaders on October 2, 1952, and deleted that section of his speech.

Joe McCarthy burst onto the political scene on February 9, 1950 with a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he made the first of many reckless allegations about communists in the federal government. The Senate finally censured McCarthy for his conduct on December 2, 1954.

Learn more: Thomas C. Reeves, The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography (1982)

Read the original documents related to the speech: http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/mccarthyism.html

Learn about George C. Marshall: Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Marshall (1987)

Learn more: David Oshinsky, A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy (1983)

Learn more about McCarthyism: http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/joseph-mccarthy

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