McCarthyism in State and Nation

  • M. J. Heale
Part of the American History in Depth book series (AHD)


There was no single source of red scare politics. McCarthyism was clearly a protean creature; it assumed different shapes and changed over time. For this reason, a number of the interpretations that scholars have advanced have some validity. If status anxieties are difficult to identify, regime anxieties at least did play their part, or at least the anxieties of those who identified with power structures threatened by political and social change. The guardians of the white South, for example, whether chieftains like the Talmadges or the rednecks of the Ku Klux Klan, embraced anticommunism as well as segregation for reasons of this sort. The dynamics of party politics could also play a major role in generating a red scare, as illustrated in this study by the case of Michigan. In a number of states too the internal security issue served to further bureaucratic authority, with the assistance of those interested in fashioning little FBIs. It is clear also that the power of federal example had a major impact on the wider society; federal legislation such as the Smith and McCarran Acts and federal initiatives such as the loyalty-security programme were imitated in various ways at state and local levels.


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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Austin Ranney, ‘Parties in State Politics’, in Herbert Jacob and Kenneth N. Vines (eds), Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis (Boston: Little, Brown, 1965), p. 65.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    David Caute, The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp.216–23, 431–45;Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Herman Kogan, ‘The Sucker State Sees Red’, The New Republic, 11 April 1949, pp. 18–19;Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    James O’Gara, ‘What Price Anti-Sedition?’ The Commonweal, 50 (8 July 1949), 312–15;Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Karl M. Schmidt, Henry A. Wallace: Quixotic Crusade, 1948 (Binghamton: Syracuse University Press, 1960), p. 79;Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Don E. Carleton, Red Scare! Right-wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in Texas (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985);Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    James A. Maxwell, ‘Cincinnati’s Phantom Reds’, The Reporter, 3 (26 Sept.1950), 28–30.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    On the role of the South, see e.g. Margaret Weir, Ann Shola Orloff and Theda Skocpol (eds), The Politics of Social Policy in the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© M. J. Heale 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Heale
    • 1
  1. 1.Lancaster UniversityUK

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