History- Essay 2

Although the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were officially allies by the end of World War II, relations between the countries quickly soured once the war ended. As early as the Potsdam conference in the summer of 1945, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin told U.S. President Harry Truman that each man was profoundly misunderstood in the other’s country, and that sense of misunderstanding quickly blossomed into mutual suspicion and conviction that each country sought the other’s destruction. Tensions quickly escalated over the shape and structure of postwar Europe, as the United States complained that the Soviet Army interfered in the governance of Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union worried that the United States would use its monopoly over nuclear weaponry to attack the Soviet Union. The ensuing “Cold War” led to a tide of anti-Soviet and anti-Communist fervor in the United States.

Joseph McCarthy, a little known senator from Wisconsin, built a powerful public platform between 1950 and 1954 on those anti-Communist fears, arguing that Communists had infiltrated all levels of American society, including especially the government. McCarthy rose to great prominence and was, for a time, hailed as a hero by many for his unapologetic assault on the forces of Communism in America.

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Think about the conditions in American society that allowed his vitriolic and frequently slanderous accusations to achieve such widespread renown. Consider the changes in international affairs from the end of World War II to the early 1950s, as well as the nature of the ideological conflict between capitalism and communism. Think about the relationship between popular anxieties, paranoia, patriotism, and national pride. Write an essay that explains the causes of the Red Scare of the 1950s, typified by the career of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Your essay should describe the changes in America’s relationship to the Soviet Union in the five years after the end of World War II, including specific military conflicts as well as ideological differences. You should also discuss the nature of McCarthy’s accusations and arguments about the Communist threat. What made McCarthyism so compelling and convincing to so many Americans?


The essay must include your name, date, and title (of your choosing). It must be typed in Times New Roman font size 12 with default margins, and double spaced. I will subtract 5 points if these instructions are not followed. For any outside source, you must include parenthetical citations and a work cited page.


Your essay must be 500 words in length. I will count off 20 or more points if the word requirement is not met.

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