Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

McCarthy, Joseph (1908–1957)

Born in Wisconsin, McCarthy graduated from Marquette University with a law degree but was largely unsuccessful in law. He ran a dirty but successful campaign for a circuit court judgeship, before quitting to serve in the Marines in World War II. After the war, he beat Senator Robert La Follete of Wisconsin to become a Republican senator. Sensing that he might not win reelection, McCarthy seized upon the American public’s fear of communism by announcing a list of 205 State Department members who were ostensibly American Communist Party members. Appointed chairman of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate, he investigated public workers and private citizens for communist alignment for three years. The military and President Eisenhower began uncovering and revealing McCarthy’s dishonesty and corruption to the press, which turned the tide against him. He was censured by the Senate in 1954 and stripped of his power.