Speech at Wheeling, West Virginia


By: Joseph McCarthy

Whatever the deeper causes of the Second Red Scare, few doubt that Senator Joseph R. McCarthy did more than any other individual to turn the concern about domestic disloyalty and security into a form of national hysteria. His name still stirs violent emot ions in those who lived through that turbulent period. The words McCarthyism and McCarthyite have become a part of our language.


"A man without moral perceptions," in the words of one recent biographer, "one who will break all the rules because for him there are none," McCarthy had floundered through four years in the Senate and was desperately searching for an issue that would increase his visibility and would aid his plans for reelection when he appeared before the Ohio County Women's Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950. Following the outline of speeches by other Republican anticomm unists, McCarthy charged that the United States had lost ground in the world not as a result of foreign aggression, but "because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this nation." He claimed, according to press rep orts of the address, to have in his hands a list of 205 members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring currently employed by "and shaping the policy of the State Department." When later challenged to produce evidence for his charges Mc Carthy maintained that he was referring to Communist "party loyalists" or "bad risks" in the State Department, and in the moderated version of the Wheeling speech introduced into the Congressional Record on February 20, reprinte d below, he reduced the number of alleged Communists to 57.


McCarthy had no list at all. But it didn't matter. In an atmosphere charged by the Communist victory in China, the successful explosion of an A-bomb by the Soviet Union, the Hiss-Chambers confrontations, the Truman Administration's own campaign against subversion, and soon the outbreak of war in Korea, McCarthy had a winning issue which dominated news headlines and the Republican Party had a potent weapon which pummeled the Democrats.


Five years after a world war has been won, men's hearts should anticipate a long peace, and men's minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period_ for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of the " ;cold war." This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile armed camps_a time of a great armaments race....


Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time. And, ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down_they are truly down....


Six years ago, at the time of the first conference to map out the peace_Dumbarton Oaks_there was within the Soviet orbit 180,000,000 people. Lined up on the antitotalitarian side there were in the world at that time roughly 1,625,000,000 people. Today, on ly 6 years later, there are 800,000,000 people under the absolute domination of Soviet Russia_an increase of over 400 percent. On our side, the figure has shrunk to around 500,000,000. In other words, in less than 6 years the odds have changed from 9 to 1 in our favor to 8 to 5 against us. This indicates the swiftness of the tempo of Communist victories and American defeats in the cold war. As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, "When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be be cause of enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within." . . .


The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate or members of minority groups who have been selling this Nation out, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer_the finest homes, the finest college education, and the finest jobs in Government we can- give.


This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been the worst.... In my opinion the State Department, which. is one of the most important government departme nts, is thoroughly infested with Communists.


I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy....


I know that you are saying to yourself, "Well, why doesn't the Congress do something about it?" Actually, ladies and gentlemen, one of the important reasons for the graft, the corruption, the dishonesty, the disloyalty, the treason in high Gover nment positions_one of the most important reasons why this continues is a lack of moral uprising on the part of the 140,000,000 American people. In the light of history, however, this is not hard to explain.


It is the result of an emotional hang-over and a temporary moral lapse which follows every war. It is the apathy to evil which people who have been subjected to the tremendous evils of war feel. As the people of the world see mass murder, the destruction of defenseless and innocent people, and all of the crime and lack of morals which go with war, they become numb and apathetic. It has always been thus after war.


However, the morals of our people have not been destroyed. They still exist. This cloak of numbness and apathy has only needed a spark to rekindle them. Happily, this spark has finally been supplied.


As you know, very recently the Secretary of State proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes_of being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust. The Secretary of Stat e in attempting to justify his continued devotion to the man who sold out the Christian world to the atheistic world, referred to Christ's Sermon on the Mount as a justification and reason therefore, and the reaction of the American people t o this would have made the heart of Abraham Lincoln happy.

When this pompous diplomat in striped pants, with a phony British accent, proclaimed to the American people that Christ on the Mount endorsed communism, high treason, and betrayal of a sacred trust, the blasphemy was so great that it awakened the dormant indignation of the American people.


He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of national honesty and decency in government.