'ENEMIES FROM WITHIN' SPEECH by Senator Joseph McCarthy1950

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Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy delivered the following speech in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 20th, 1950. The senator claimed to possess a list of known communists within the state department.

'ENEMIES FROM WITHIN' SPEECH by Senator Joseph McCarthy1950
Senator Joseph McCarthy's 1950 Lincoln Day Address

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy delivered the following speech in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 20th, 1950. The senator claimed to possess a list of known communists within the state department. This was considered to be an attack on President Truman's foreign policies during the Cold War. While McCarthy continued to revise the number of names on the list, and in fact never made the list public, his claims nevertheless launched him into a position of fame and power as the driving force behind the Red Scare: the historic "witch hunt" of the 1950s.

Please note: this is an abridged version of the speech.

As you read, take notes on the evidence McCarthy uses to support his claims about communism in the United States.
Tonight as we celebrate the 141st birthday of one of the great 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 worldwide disarmament. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

The Speech:

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...

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.

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 two 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 showdown 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 peace — Dumbarton Oaks — there was within the Soviet orbit 180 million people. Lined up on the anti-totalitarian side there were in the world at that time roughly 1.625 billion people. Today, only six years later, there are 800 million people under the absolute domination of Soviet Russia — an increase of over 400 percent. On our side, the figure has shrunk to around 500 million. In other words, in less than six 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.

Now I know it is very easy for anyone to condemn a particular bureau or department in general terms. Therefore, I would like to cite one rather unusual case — the case of a man who has done much to shape our foreign policy.

When Chiang Kai-shek was fighting our war, the State Department had in China a young man named John S. Service. His task, obviously, was not to work for the communization of China. Strangely, however, he sent official reports back to the State Department urging that we torpedo our ally Chiang Kai-shek and stating, in effect, that communism was the best hope of China.

Later, this man — John Service — was picked up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for turning over to the communists secret State Department information. Strangely, however, he was never prosecuted. However, Joseph Grew, the undersecretary of state, who insisted on his prosecution, was forced to resign. Two days after, Grew's successor, Dean Acheson, took over as undersecretary of state, this man — John Service — who had been picked up by the FBI and who had previously urged that communism was the best hope of China, was not only reinstated in the State Department but promoted; and finally, under Acheson, placed in charge of all placements and promotions. Today, ladies and gentlemen, this man Service is on his way to represent the State Department and Acheson in Calcutta — by far and away the most important listening post in the Far East.

Now, let's see what happens when individuals with communist connections are forced out of the State Department. Gustave Duran, who was labeled as, I quote, "a notorious international communist," was made assistant secretary of state in charge of Latin American affairs. He was taken into the State Department from his job as a lieutenant colonel in the Communist International Brigade. Finally, after intense congressional pressure and criticism, he resigned in 1946 from the State Department — and, ladies and gentlemen, where do you think he is now? He took over a high-salaried job as chief of Cultural Activities Section in the office of the assistant secretary-general of the United Nations...

This, ladies and gentlemen, gives you somewhat of a picture of the type of individuals who have been helping to shape our foreign policy. In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, 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.

One thing to remember in discussing the communists in our government is that we are not dealing with spies who get 30 pieces of silver to steal the blueprints of new weapons. We are dealing with a far more sinister type of activity because it permits the enemy to guide and shape our policy.

This brings us down to the case of one Alger Hiss, who is important not as an individual anymore but rather because he is so representative of a group in the State Department. It is unnecessary to go over the sordid events showing how he sold out the nation which had given him so much. Those are rather fresh in all of our minds. However, it should be remembered that the facts in regard to his connection with this international communist spy ring were made known to the then-Undersecretary of State Berle three days after Hitler and Stalin signed the Russo-German Alliance Pact. At that time one Whittaker Chambers — who was also part of the spy ring — apparently decided that with Russia on Hitler's side, he could no longer betray our nation to Russia. He gave Undersecretary of State Berle — and this is all a matter of record — practically all, if not more, of the facts upon which Hiss' conviction was based.

Undersecretary Berle promptly contacted Dean Acheson and received word in return that Acheson, and I quote, "could vouch for Hiss absolutely" — at which time the matter was dropped. And this, you understand, was at a time when Russia was an ally of Germany. This condition existed while Russia and Germany were invading and dismembering Poland, and while the communist groups here were screaming "warmonger" at the United States for their support of the Allied nations.

Again in 1943, the FBI had occasion to investigate the facts surrounding Hiss' contacts with the Russian spy ring. But even after that FBI report was submitted, nothing was done.

Then, late in 1948 — on August 5 — when the Un-American Activities Committee called Alger Hiss to give an accounting, President Truman at once issued a presidential directive ordering all government agencies to refuse to turn over any information whatsoever in regard to the communist activities of any government employee to a congressional committee.

Incidentally, even after Hiss was convicted, it is interesting to note that the president still labeled the expose of Hiss as a "red herring."

If time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief adviser at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally... and when, according to the secretary of state, Hiss and Gromyko drafted the report on the conference.

According to the then-Secretary of State Stettinius, here are some of the things that Hiss helped to decide at Yalta: (1) the establishment of a European High Commission; (2) the treatment of Germany — this you will recall was the conference at which it was decided that we would occupy Berlin with Russia occupying an area completely encircling the city, which as you know, resulted in the Berlin airlift which cost 31 American lives; (3) the Polish question; (4) the relationship between UNRRA and the Soviet; (5) the rights of Americans on control commissions of Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary; (6) Iran; (7) China — here's where we gave away Manchuria; (8) Turkish Straits question; (9) international trusteeships; (10) Korea.

Of the results of this conference, Arthur Bliss Lane of the State Department had this to say: "As I glanced over the document, I could not believe my eyes. To me, almost every line spoke of a surrender to Stalin."

As you hear this story of high treason, 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 government positions — one of the most important reasons why this continues — is a lack of moral uprising on the part of the 140 million American people. In the light of history, however, this is not hard to explain.

It is the result of an emotional hangover 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 state, 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 to 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.

"'Enemies from Within' Speech" from historymatters.gmu.edu by Senator Joseph McCarthy (1950) is in the public domain.

Unless otherwise noted, this content is licensed under theCC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license

1. the reduction or withdrawal of military forces and weapons
2. military weapons and equipment
3. An outdated term used to describe the region now known as Southeast Asia.
4. the former name of the country of Taiwan
5. Josef Stalin (1878-1953) was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. He is now well-known for ordering political purges and imprisoning thousands of people in the Gulag prison camps. The number of deaths caused by Stalin’s regime is still debated, but it is largely agreed to be in the millions.
6. Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) was a Russian communist leader, politician, and political theorist.
7. Supervene (verb) : to occur later than a specified or implied event or action, typically in such a way as to change the situation
8. It is unclear who McCarthy is quoting, as he never explicitly states it. He may be paraphrasing.
9. Chiang Kai-shek (1888-1975) was a Chinese political and military leader who fought against Mao Zedong’s Communist forces.
10. It is unclear who or what McCarthy is quoting. It has been suggested that he was loosely paraphrasing ideas from either Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address or his “House Divided” Speech.
11. This number has fluctuated over time. Other sources claim that he said 205.
12. Despite these accusations, McCarthy refused to produce any of these names or any evidence supporting his claim.
13. These words were spoken by Representative Richard Nixon two weeks earlier in the House of Representatives, however, McCarthy does not cite him in his speech.
14. Alger Hiss (1904-1996) was an American government official who was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948. While never tried for treason, he was convicted of perjury, or lying while under oath.
15. McCarthy is referencing the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). This was a committee of the United States House of Representatives, created in 1938 to investigate “subversive activities.” They investigated private citizens, public employees, and organizations suspected of ties to or sympathy with communism.
16. A “red herring” is a term used to describe something, such as a clue, that is intended to be misleading or distracting. In this case, it is also a play on the word “red,” as the color is often associated with communism.
17. The Yalta conference was held in February 1945 between U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, and U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill. They met to discuss Europe's post-WWII reorganization.
18. Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko (1909-1989) was a Soviet statesman during the Cold War. He was responsible for many Soviet foreign policy decisions.
19. In response to the Berlin Blockade (June 1948-May 1949), the Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift. They carried supplies to the people of West Berlin.
20. The “Polish question” refers to their discussion of the status of Poland. Several times in history, Poland has been wiped off of the map, absorbed into another country or seized by a foreign power. Following WWII, the Soviet Union remained an armed presence in Poland.
21. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, or UNRRA, was an international relief agency that was founded in 1943 and became part of the United Nations in 1945.
22. Manchuria is a mountainous region that forms a northeastern portion of China.
23. The “Turkish Straits question” is likely a reference to The Turkish Straits crisis. This crisis was a Cold War conflict between the Soviet Union and Turkey. The latter was being pressured by the Soviet government to allow Soviet shipping through the Turkish Straits, which connected the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
24. Graft (noun) : practices, especially bribery, used to secure illicit gains in politics or business; corruption
25. A reference to Dean Acheson’s defense of Alger Hiss
26. The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings attributed to Jesus in the Christian New Testament: Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7.
27. Blasphemy (noun) : the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about sacred things



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