There have been many incidents in the history of the United States that placed fear in the minds of many Americans. Two major events of this nature occurred from 1919-1920, and again from 1947-1957. What caused these waves of fear? The answer is communism. The Red Scare was a period in which many Americans feared that communism would thrive, and the capitalist system in the United States would be threatened. Students can learn about this important part of history by delving into its causes and effects.
The first wave of the Red Scare occurred after World War I for several reasons. Many countries were involved in this war because of the complex alliances that were formed with developing countries. In addition, the United States joined the war to support ally forces. The Red Scare was sparked by revolutions around the world, especially the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. This revolution led to a worldwide fear of the possibility that other countries might experience this same type of revolution.
The second Red Scare was fueled by the climate in the nation, and the work of one man, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy. His fears about the spread of communism led to the creation of committees to interview people suspected of communist leanings. Many people were accused of being disloyal to the United States, or spying for communist countries. A phrase was developed to describe this movement. It was called McCarthyism. During this period, individuals who spoke out against the government were viewed as threats to the rest of society. Many entertainers and writers were blacklisted because their actions were considered un-American. At the same time the committees were interviewing suspected communists, the United States was spreading an anti-communist message through posters, and other media. This period also marked the conviction of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage. The couple were executed in 1953 after being convicted of leaking information about the atomic bomb.
Delving into the events that led up to the the Red Scare, can heighten student's interest in this topic. There are also many other areas of research that can provide a way to make a study of the Red Scare a motivating experience. For example, students can read stories about Cold War spies, the FBI, and espionage. By adding elements, such as these, teachers can design a great interdisciplinary unit involving history, technology, science, and English.
Red Scare, McCarthyism, Communism:
Pupils will learn about Joseph McCarthy and communism. They will also examine documents and political cartoons related to McCarthy’s key points.
Your class will examine the early foundations of communism, and conduct research on other political ideologies.
Learners examine international and domestic issues concerning the United States in the 1950s.
Pupils read Arthur Miller’s book The Crucible which was written in the 1950s. The explore the historical context, compare historical facts with Miller's treatment of the facts, and make connections to history and literature.
This resource enables students to use the blues to explore urbanization, technology between 1914 and 1945. They also make connections to the Great Migration and examine certain industries, inventions, technology, and consumerism.