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The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy

"I have here in my hand . . ." The war against Communism and Joseph McCarthy’s place in it are the focus of a series of lessons examining postwar America from 1945-1954. Joseph McCarthy takes center stage in this, the final lesson of the series, and examines the senator's activities from 1950 through 1954. Groups read several primary source documents and guided by the included questions, consider how McCarthy's actions lead to his downfall.  

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CCSS: Adaptable

  • Background information on the period and on McCarthy himself, is provided for instructors
  • Links to a wide variety of primary source documents are included
  • Discussion questions ask learners to reflect on the human reaction to and the power of accusations

  • Although class members will have knowledge of the Verona Project from previous lessons, they are not asked to consider that document in this lesson
Included Materials

  • The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy
  • Anticommunism in Postwar America: Interactive Timeline of the early Cold War years
  • Anticommunism in Postwar America, 1945–1954: Witch Hunt or Red Menace?
  • Activity
  • Graphics & Images
  • Lesson Plan
  • Project