AP History Notes

The world's best AP history notes

Learn more on this topic from our recommended AP history review books.

1950 — Communists in Government Service by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, Sen. Lucas of Illinois, and Sen. Lodge of Massachusetts

February, 1950

Mr. McCARTHY: Mr. President, I wish to discuss a subject tonight which concerns me more than does any other subject I have ever discussed before this body, and perhaps more than any other subject I shall ever have the good fortune to discuss in the future. It not only concerns me, but it disturbs and frightens me.

About 10 days ago, at Wheeling, W. Va., in making a Lincoln Day speech, I made the statement that there are presently in the State Department a very sizable group of active Communists. I made the further statement, Mr. President, that of one small group which had been screened by the President’s own security agency, the State Department refused to discharge approximately 200 of those individuals.

The Secretary of State promptly denied my statement and said there was not a single Communist in the State Department I thereafter sent a telegram to the President, which I should like to read at this time:

President Harry S. Truman
White House, Washington, D.C.

In the Lincoln Day speech at Wheeling Thursday night I stated that the State Department harbors a nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers who are helping to shape our foreign policy. I further stated that I have in my possession the names of 57 Communists who are in the State Department at present. A State Department spokesman promptly denied this, claiming that there is not a single Communist in the Department. You can convince yourself of the falsity of the State Department claim very easily. You will recall that you personally appointed a board to screen State Department employees for the purpose of weeding out fellow travelers — men whom the board considered dangerous to the security of this Nation. Your board did a painstaking job and named hundreds which had been listed as dangerous to the security of the Nation, because of communistic connections.

While the records are not available to me, I know absolutely of one group of approximately 300 certified to the Secretary for discharge because of communism. He actually only discharged approximately 80. I understand that this was done after lengthy consultation with the now-convicted traitor Alger Hiss. I would suggest, therefore, Mr. President, that you simply pick up your phone and ask Mr. Acheson how many of those whom your board had labeled as dangerous Communists he failed to discharge. The day the House Un-American Activities Committee exposed Alger Hiss is an important link in an international Communist spy ring you signed an order forbidding the State Department’s giving any information in regard to the disloyalty or the communistic connections of anyone in that Department to the Congress.

Despite this State Department black-out, we have been able to compile a list of 57 Communists in the State Department. This list is available to you but you can get a much longer list by ordering Secretary Acheson to give you a list of those whom your own board listed as being disloyal and who are still working in the State Department. I believe the following is the minimum which can be expected of you in this case.

1. That you demand that Acheson give you and the proper congressional committee the names and a complete report on all of those who were placed in the Department by Alger Hiss, and all of those still working in the State Department who were listed by your board as bad security risks because of their communistic connections.

2. That you promptly revoke the order in which you provided under no circumstances could a congressional committee obtain any information or help in exposing Communists.

Failure on your part will label the Democratic Party of being the bedfellow of international communism. Certainly this label is not deserved by the hundreds of thousands of loyal American Democrats throughout the Nation and by the sizable number of able loyal Democrats in both the Senate and the House.

Mr. President the only answer I have received to this telegram was the statement by the President at his press conference to the effect that there was not a word of truth in the telegram.

Subsequently the Democratic leader of the Senate — at least the alleged leader — made a speech in Chicago in which he repeated substantially what the President said, except that he went one step further and stated:

If I had said the nasty things that McCarthy has about the State Department, I would be ashamed all my life.

He also said there was not a word of truth in my charge. I think it is unfortunate, not because I am concerned with what the senior Senator from Illinois happens to think, but because he occupies such an important position. I believe, if we are going to root out the fifth column in the State Department, we should have the wholehearted cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans –

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

Mr. McCARTHY: Wait until I finish. If the Senator will stay with me for the next few hours he will learn a great many facts. I have never refused to yield to any Senator, and I do not intend to refuse. The Senator from Illinois will have full time in which to answer any question he wishes to ask, but let me first finish my sentence.

I started to say that I think it is especially bad because it indicates a preconceived decision not to work with us in attempting to ferret out Communists. I do not feel that the Democratic Party has control of the executive branch of the Government any more. If it had, with the very able Members on the other side of the aisle, we would not find the picture which I intend to disclose. I think a group of twisted-thinking intellectuals have taken over both the Democratic and Republican Parties to try to wrest control from them.

I shall be glad now to yield to the Senator from Illinois.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, I should like to say to the Senator that there is no one in the Senate or in the country who is any more opposed to Communist domination of any nation or Communist infiltration into any country than is the Senator from Illinois. What I am asking the Senator to do — and I hope he will do it, and the country wants him to do it — is to follow through with the speech which he made in Wheeling, W. Va., in which he stated more than 200 persons working in the State Department were known to the Secretary of State to be members of the Communist Party. If the Senator made that statement — and that is what has been reported — I want him to name those Communists. If there are card-carrying Communists in the State Department, the Senator from Illinois will go along with the Senator from Wisconsin in any way possible to remove those Communists from the rolls.

The Senator does not have to do as he did in Salt Lake City and say, “I am not charging these four people with being Communists.” The Senator is privileged to name them all in the Senate, and if those people are not Communists he will be protected. That is all I want the Senator to do. If the Senator names those 205 card-carrying Communists, and he proves to be right, the Senator from Illinois will apologize for anything he has said about the Senator from Wisconsin.

Mr. McCARTHY: I wish to thank the distinguished Senator from Illinois for his views, but I should like to assure him that I will not say anything on the Senate floor which I will not say off the floor. On the day when I take advantage of the security we have on the Senate floor, on that day I will resign from the Senate. Anything I say on the floor of the Senate at any time will be repeated off the floor.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

Mr. McCARTHY: Not until I have finished answering the question of the Senator from Illinois. The Senator called my attention to something, and I am glad he did; otherwise I might have overlooked it. Incidentally, the speech in Reno, Nev., and that in Wheeling, W. Va., were recorded, so there is no question about what I said. I do not believe I mentioned the figure 205. I believe I said “over 200.” The President said, “It is just a lie. There is nothing to it.”

I have before me a letter which was reproduced in the Congressional Record on August 1, 1946, at page A4892. It is a letter from James F. Byrnes, former Secretary of State. It deals with the screening of the first group, of about 3,000. There were a great number of subsequent screenings. This was the beginning.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

Mr. McCARTHY: Please let me finish. The Senator will have all the time in the world to ask questions, and I shall be very glad to yield to the Senator for that purpose, and he can even make short speeches and take all the time he wants.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, the Senator from Illinois –

Mr. McCARTHY: I do not yield at this time.

PRESIDING OFFICER: The Senator from Wisconsin declines to yield.

Mr. McCARTHY: The letter deals with the first group of 3,000 which was screened. The President — and I think wisely so — set up a board to screen the employees who were coming to the State Department from the various war agencies of the War Department. There were thousands of unusual characters in some of those war agencies. Former Secretary Byrnes in his letter, which is reproduced in the Congressional Record, says this:

Pursuant to Executive order approximately 4,000 employees have been transferred to the Department of State from various war agencies such as the OSS, FEA, OWI, OIAA, and so forth. Of these 4,000 employees, the case histories of approximately 3,000 have been subjected to a preliminary examination, as a result of which a recommendation against permanent employment has been made in 285 cases by the screening committee to which you refer in your letter.

In other words, former Secretary Byrnes said that 285 of those men are unsafe risks. He goes on to say that of this number only 79 have been removed. Of the 57 I mentioned some are from this group of 205, and some are from subsequent groups which have been screened but not discharged.

I might say in that connection that the investigative agency of the State Department has done an excellent job. The files show that they went into great detail in labeling Communists as such. The only trouble is that after the investigative agency had properly labeled these men as Communists the State Department refused to discharge them. I shall give detailed cases.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President –

Mr. McCARTHY: As to the 57 whose names the Senator is demanding, if he will be patient and sit down –

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, in view of the statements made, the Senator should yield.

Mr. McCARTHY: I shall yield at this time only for a question. I shall not yield for any lengthy speeches by the Senator from Illinois. If he wishes to ask a question, I shall be glad to answer it.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, did the Senator say at Wheeling, W. Va., last Thursday night that 205 persons working for the State Department were known by the Secretary of State to be members of the Communist Party, or words to that effect? Did he call the attention of the country to the fact that 205 men in the State Department were card-carrying Communists? Did the Senator say that? That is what I should like to know.

Mr. McCARTHY: Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent at this time to insert in the Record a copy of the speech which I made at Wheeling, W. Va.

Mr. LUCAS: Cannot the Senator answer “Yes” or “No”?

Mr. McCARTHY: I will ask the Senator please not to interrupt me. I will yield to him later. I will give him all the chance in the world.

Mr. LUCAS: I asked the Senator a very simple question,

Mr. McCARTHY: I ask at this time unanimous consent to be allowed to insert in the Record a copy of the speech which I made at Wheeling, W. Va., and at Reno, Nev. It was the same speech.

Mr. LUCAS: Mr. President, I object.

Mr. McCARTHY: In that case I shall read the speech into the Record.

Mr. LUCAS: We want to hear it.

Mr. McCARTHY: The speech reads:

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight as we celebrate the one hundred and forty-first birthday of one of the greatest men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world . As we celebrate the birth of this man who with his whole heart and soul hated war, I would like to be able to speak of peace in our time, of war being outlawed, and of world-wide disarmament. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

I hope the Senator from Illinois will stay for this.

Mr. LUCAS: I shall be right here. I am coming over to the Republican side of the aisle so that I will not miss anything.

Mr. McCARTHY: I am sure the Senator will not miss anything. The speech proceeded:

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 can almost physically hear the mutterings and rumblings of an invigorated god of war. You can see it, feel it, and hear it all the way from the hills of Indochina, from the shores of Formosa, right over into the very heart of Europe itself.

The one encouraging thing is that the “mad moment” has not yet arrived for the firing of the gun or the exploding of the bomb which will set civilization about the final task of destroying itself. There is still a hope for peace if we really decide that no longer can we safely blind our eyes and close our ears to those facts which are shaping up more and more clearly. And that is that we are now engaged in a show-down fight — not the usual war between nations for land areas or other material gains, but a war between two diametrically opposed ideologies.

The great difference between our western Christian world and the atheistic Communist world is not political, ladies and gentlemen, it is moral. There are other differences, of course, but those could be reconciled. For instance, the Marxian idea of confiscating the land and factories and running the entire economy as a single enterprise is momentous. Likewise, Lenin’s invention of the one-party police state as a way to make Marx’s idea work is hardly less momentous.

Stalin’s resolute putting across of these two ideas, of course, did much to divide the world. With only those differences, however, the East and the West could most certainly still live in peace.

The real, basic difference, however, lies in the religion of immoralism — invented by Marx, preached feverishly by Lenin, and carried to unimaginable extremes by Stalin. This religion of immoralism, if the Red half of the world wins — and well it may — this religion of immoralism will more deeply wound and damage mankind than any conceivable economic or political system.

Karl Marx dismissed God as a hoax, and Lenin and Stalin have added in clear-cut unmistakable language their resolve that no nation, no people who believe in a God, can exist side by side with their communistic state.

Karl Marx, for example, expelled people from his Communist Party for mentioning such things as justice, humanity, or morality. He called this soulful ravings and sloppy sentimentality.

While Lincoln was a relatively young man in his late thirties, Karl Marx boasted that the Communist specter was haunting Europe. Since that time, hundreds of millions of people and vast areas of the world have fallen under Communist domination. Today, less than 100 years after Lincoln’s death, Stalin brags that this Communist specter is not only haunting the world, but is about to completely subjugate it.

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.

I might say for the benefit of the Senator from Illinois that what I am reading as taken from a recording of the speech. I did not use a written speech that night. I continue the reading:

Lest there be any doubt that the time has been chosen, let us go directly to the leader of communism today — Joseph Stalin. Here is what he said — not back in 1928, not before the war, not during the war — but 2 years after the last war was ended: “To think that the Communist revolution can be carried out peacefully, within the framework of a Christian democracy, means one has either gone out of one’s mind and lost all normal understanding, or has grossly and openly repudiated the Communist revolution.”

And this is what was said by Lenin in 1919, which was also quoted with approval by Stalin in 1947:

“We are living,” said Lenin, “not merely in a state, but in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with Christian states for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. And before that end supervenes, a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republic and the Bourgeois states will be inevitable.”

Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone here tonight who is so blind as to say that the war is not on? Can there be anyone who fails to realize that the Communist world has said, “The time is now” — that this is the time for the show-down between the democratic Christian world and the Communist atheistic world?

Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long. 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, only 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 because of enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within.”

The truth of this statement is becoming terrifyingly clear as we see this country each day losing on every front.

At war’s end we were physically the strongest nation on earth and, at least potentially, the most powerful intellectually and morally. Ours could have been the honor of being a beacon in the desert of destruction, a shining living proof that civilization was not yet ready to destroy itself. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably and tragically to arise to the opportunity.

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 worst.

Mr. LODGE: Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

Mr. McCARTHY: I yield.

Mr. LODGE: I should like to say to the Senator from Wisconsin that I am interested in what he is saying, both as Senator and as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. When the Senator casts doubt on the personnel of the State Department that, of course, is something which interests me very especially. I not only feel that there should be no Communists in the State Department, but that there should be nobody in the State Department who is not affirmatively, enthusiastically loyal to the United States and what it stands for. Therefore I say to the Senator from Wisconsin now, that so far as the junior Senator from Massachusetts is concerned, he will at the earliest appropriate opportunity make a motion to have a subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee take up every single one of the accusations which the Senator from Wisconsin makes. Mr. McCARTHY: I was hoping the Senator would.

Mr. LODGE: I make that statement at this point, when the Senator from Wisconsin is beginning to speak about the State Department, because I think that I for one have a special responsibility in that field.

Mr. McCARTHY. In case the Senator from Massachusetts is not able to remain and listen to all of my remarks.

Mr. LODGE. I cannot remain and listen to the whole of the Senator’s speech, because I have another engagement, but I shall read it all in the morning with the utmost care.

Mr. McCARTHY. In case the Senator must leave — and I say it will take me a long time to conclude, if I continue to have the interruptions I have previously had — I should like to call attention to three of the cases which I intend to cite: Case No. 1, case No. 2, and case No. 81. Those, I think, represent the big three. While there are vast numbers of other Communists with whom we must be concerned, if we can get rid of those big three we will have done something to break the back of the espionage ring within the State Department.

I might say also, in case the Senator will not be present to hear me, that in giving the records I have been very careful about doing two things: No. 1, not to cite anything which has not been confirmed by the intelligence agencies which have been investigating these men; and No. 2 — and this I think is very important — I have tried, and I hope successfully, to red-pencil anything that might be embarrassing to any investigating agency. I know it is easy to call for files, and when I call for a disloyalty file I do not mean that I am calling for the source of information. I do not think any intelligence agency can work and do a good job if the Senate or the House, or any other body is entitled to make public the source of the information. The files which I have here show the source of the information. I contacted one of the Federal intelligence agencies, one of the investigative units. I asked them if they would care to go over what I have to say before I say it, and red-pencil anything which they thought might in any way divulge the source of information, that would in any way inform the Communist spy ring of the information they have. The answer was, “Well, you have gotten all of it from the State Department files, and the Communists within the Department can see those files, and I will show you which Commies have the top-secret clearance so if they have seen it, it does not do much damage for the Senate to see them.”

Mr. LODGE: Let me say to the Senator from Wisconsin that I am not undertaking to say whether he is right or wrong. I have no way of knowing that. What I say is that the matter he is discussing is of such vital importance that I think it ought to be investigated by a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. McCARTHY: Mr. President, I say with my whole heart, I hope I am wrong. There is nothing as disturbing as is this picture. But if I am wrong, I shall be very happy indeed to know that I am.

Share AP History Notes:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Digg
  • MySpace

Learn more on this topic from our recommended AP history review books.

Leave a Reply