Free Essay Example: The Second Red Scare

Published: 2023-07-10
Free Essay Example: The Second Red Scare
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  World War 2 Politics World War 1 American history
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1771 words
15 min read

The Red Scare is a phenomenon that occurred in the history of the United States of America (USA) after the first world war. It happened in two phases (first Red Scare, and second Red Scare). The name "Red Scare" refers to the red flags that the communists used during this period. The first Red Scare occurred between 1919 to 1921 and was caused by the threat of the American labor movement (Storrs 6). The second Red Scare occurred during the 1950s. One of the leading causes was the fear brought by the communists infiltrating the US government. It was also fueled by the fear brought by the increased growth of countries with communists post the second world war (Norton et al. 14). There were high-profile international and domestic events that might have created the required state for the Second Red Scare. These events include the Rosenberg trial, McCarthyism, the victory of the Chinese Revolution led by communists, the war that erupted in Korea, and increased knowledge of nuclear weapons created by the Russians.

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The Rosenberg trial involved high profile individuals in the Manhattan project including Julius Rosenberg (an electrical engineer), David Greenglass (a machinist at Los Alamos and brother-in-law to Rosenberg), Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs, Morton Sobell and Theodore Hall. Due to most newspaper headlines about the Rosenberg trial, most Americans believed that the Soviet espionage was a severe crime which had put all their lives at risk. In 1951, Klaus Fuchs was discovered by the US Army Signal Intelligence Service as a spy for the Russians. Fuchs was arrested in February the same year in the United Kingdom. His arrest was followed by a chain of investigations which finally led to the arrests of Rosenberg, Ethel Greenglass, and another individual Harry Gold who was also in the espionage spy ring (Norton et al. 16). Upon questioning, Greenglass admitted to spying for the Soviets and associating with Julius and Hall.

The Rosenberg trial which occurred in a federal court in New York's Southern district lasted for nearly one month. The criminal act committed was the provision of highly confidential instructions used by the Russians to make atomic weapons. The Russians proceeded to explode their first nuclear bomb in September nineteen forty-nine using their information and that provided by Rosenberg and his espionage network. This event threatened the Americans as it put the Soviet Union as the most powerful country in the world post the second world war (Shi and George 18). Since the united states were not at war with the Soviet Union, the Rosenbergs could not be charged with treason. Instead, they were sentenced to a death row on sixth April. Greenglass, on the other hand, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for his cooperation with Rosenberg. Sobell received a thirty-year prison sentence.

"McCarthyism" was the name given to the state caused by the speech of Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin. He was a junior Republican in his first term in office. During the Lincoln Day, he delivered the speech that made him a political star. Since the end of world war two, tensions existed between the communist Soviet Union and the capitalist United States (Smith 55). In his speech, the senator revealed that in only six years, the number of people who worked for the Soviet Union in the US had grown exponentially. He argued that if the government did nothing, the number of communists would increase and finally, the USA would be fully controlled by the Communists (Michaels & Jonathan 13). McCarthy proceeded to produce a list of 205 individuals who worked in the state department whom he claimed were confirmed communists. These allegations by McCarthy was all over newspapers in the country. Thus, he succeeded in spreading fear among American citizens that the Russians had infiltrated their government from the lowest to the highest ranks.

The success of the Chinese revolution led by communists that occurred in nineteen forty-nine scared the Americans since they believed that the number of communists in their county was growing according to the information provided by McCarthy (Smith 55). Such an instance led to the second Red Scare. The leader of communists in China, Mao Zedong, declared the creation of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). The nationalists, on the other hand, were led by Chiang Kai-shek. However, the group led by Chiang was not stable and faced many threats, including the Japanese invasion, the uprising of the communists, and threats from warlords (Smith 18). A group of generals were not impressed with the response of Chiang to these threats. As a result, Chiang got abducted by these generals and forced him to rethink cooperating with the communists.

During the second world war, the support for the communists exceeded that of the nationalists. According to the reports by US officials posted in China, the communists suppressed the activities of the nationalists even in regions controlled by the nationalists. This instance further increased the vulnerability of the Republic of China Government to the communists (Storrs 7). Besides, the communists owed their success to strong support on the grassroots level, well-organized military and an ample supply of weapons seized from the Japanese.

The Iron Curtain was a symbol of the efforts put by the Soviet Union to separate itself and its allied states from any contact with the West and other countries which were neutral and NATO members (Belgium, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, US, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) (Smith 19). Stalin had the aim of acquiring a demilitarized area against Germany. At the Yalta conference that occurred on August nineteen forty-five, there were strained relations due to the aims of Stalin. Countries from the West openly expressed their opposition over the domination of the buffer states by the Soviet Union. Such a state-led to increasing fears that the Soviet Union was creating an empire that had the capability of threatening them and the interests that they valued.

Winston Churchill, through his letter, expressed concerns that the US might return to a prewar which would leave weaker European states unable to fight the Soviet domination. Soon after, Stalin responded to Winston Churchill's speech, saying that Winston had the aim of spreading war rumours (Barnes 24). Stalin defended the relationship of the Soviet Union with East European states as a necessary measure to prevent an invasion. He went on further too accuse Winston of mobilizing the Eastern countries to oppose any relation with the Soviet Union.

The war that erupted in Korea also caused the second Red Scare. After the second world war, Korea was divided into northern and southern parts. The Soviet Union controlled the northern part while the United States controlled the southern region. The Russians established a communist government led by Kim11 Sung while the Americans established a nationalist government led by Syngman Rhee. The Korean war was as a result of North Korea invading South Korea on the twenty-fifth June nineteen fifty. This occurrence was a surprise to the US as they had completed withdrawing their troops from the South (Barnes 24). This communist aggression in South Korea against the nationalists scared the American citizens as they also had communists living among them. President Truman decided that the US would use force to stop the war started by the communists.

The first Red Scare was different from the second Red Scare. For instance, it occurred post the first world war in nineteen twenty. It was fueled by the fear of the Americans that the Bolshevik Revolution started by Vladimir Lenin was going to spread widely and reach the US (Shi and George 21). Many US citizens perceived that the Soviet Union (Russians) including all its allies were planning to spread forced communism around the world and in the process overthrow both democratic and capitalist institutions. Since the Soviet Union occupied the majority of Eastern and Central Europe, many US citizens feared that indeed communism was going to spread.

In the second Red Scare, there were no strikes, while the first one was characterized by a series of strikes such as the Boston and Seattle strikes. The first Red Scare occurred at a time a period when the communists, the radicals and the non-conformists felt oppressed by the government. There was inflation of fifteen percent, which reduced the savings and salaries of the lower and middle-class citizens (Norton et al. 17). Other groups that worked under organized labour, had been well recognized by the government during the war. However, they still received average wages which were dissatisfying to them. They, therefore, went on a strike so that the government could increase their wages and improve working conditions. As a result, over four million workers which equalled a fourth of the total workforce went on strike.

In conclusion, the first Red Scare came to an end when a report drafted by twelve attorneys contained the details of the Department of Justice's violation of Civil Liberties. The report was upheld by the Court, and as a result, employers and newspapers began to switch sides. There was a decline in production in the US as all the resourceful immigrants who were accused of being communists were deported. Finally, the public became calm, and the first Red Scare ended. On the other hand, the second Red Scare ended when Joseph McCarthy's allegations were proven to be based on rumors that in most cases were not true. The end of the Second Red Scare was also marked with the United Nations forces bringing back peace in Korea. Finally, both phases of red scare had a negative impact on the economy of the United States of America. They occurred for a prolonged time creating fear and instability in the country. The second Red Scare lasted longer than the first Red Scare.

Works Cited

Barnes, Robert. The US, the UN, and the Korean War: Communism in the Far East and the American Struggle for Hegemony in the Cold War. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.

Michaels, Jonathan. McCarthyism: The Realities, Delusions, and Politics Behind the 1950s Red Scare. Taylor & Francis, 2017.

Norton, Mary Beth, et al. A people and a nation: a history of the United States. Nelson Education, 2014.

Shi, David E., and George Brown Tindall. America: A narrative history. WW Norton & Company, 2016.

Smith, James H. "Red-Baiting Senator Harley Kilgore in the Election of 1952: The Limits of McCarthyism during the Second Red Scare." West Virginia History 1.1 (2007): 55-74.

Smith, Steve. A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai 1920-1927. Routledge, 2018.

Storrs, Landon RY. The second Red Scare and the unmaking of the New Deal left. Vol. 86. Princeton University Press, 2012.

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