Watercolor, gouache, ink, graphite pencil on board
Sheet: 44 x 34cm (17 5/16 x 13 3/8")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Born Grand Chute, Wisconsin
On February 9, 1950, Joseph McCarthy, a previously obscure junior senator from Wisconsin, sensationally announced that he had a list of 205 Communist Party members who worked in the State Department with the full knowledge of Secretary of State Dean Acheson. It was the beginning of McCarthy's meteoric and demagogic campaign against "reds" in the government. In truth, McCarthy had no evidence, and as his charges grew wilder, even people who sympathized with his intentions, if not his methods, fell away. When McCarthy held hearings against the U.S. Army, the tide irrevocably turned: he was censured by the Senate in 1954 and died soon after. "McCarthyism" lives on as a catchphrase for the abuse of governmental authority and power, especially in areas of civil liberties.