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December 2, 2012



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The U.S. Senate voted 65-22 to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) 58 years ago, December 2, 1954.*


The censure resolution was for ‘conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor & disrepute.’


Joe McCarthy & Roy Cohn, Army-McCarthy Hearings, Library of Congress Photo, 1954.



The road to the censure began at a Lincoln Day speech on February 9, 1950 when Senator McCarthy, speaking to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia, said he had a list of 205 employees in the State Department who were communists.

McCarthy’s efforts to erode alleged communists out of the government of the United States gained him unprecedented power & prestige.

History books call it the age of McCarthyism.

By 1954, however, McCarthy’s lack of evidence & use of bullying tactics were observed by millions of Americans on live television in the Army-McCarthy hearings.

Public opinion quickly turned against the Senator.  

After his censure, McCarthy lost credibility & was virtually ignored by his fellow senators & the press.

His physical & emotional well-being declined & his dependence on alcohol increased.

Senator McCarthy died at Bethesda Naval Hospital on March 2, 1957.  He was 48 years old.

McCarthy’s funeral service was held at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Robert F. Kennedy attended the service representing the Kennedy family.

*Senator John F. Kennedy, recuperating from a back operation, did not cast a vote & was the only senator not to go on record against McCarthy.

Joe McCarthy was a Kennedy family friend & as such did not campaign for fellow Republican Henry Cabot Lodge in the 1952 Massachusetts senate race against JFK.  

Senator Kennedy did not make any public statements critical of Joe McCarthy.

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