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The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53

4. McCarthyism

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about McCarthyism, focusing in particular on: (i) the nature of the ‘Red Scare’ prior to McCarthy; (ii) the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the Hollywood Ten; (iii) the case of Alger Hiss; (iv) the factors behind McCarthy’s extraordinary rise – support from the grassroots and support from key establishment figures such as J. Edgar Hoover and (inadvertently) Truman himself; (v) the change in McCarthy’s fortunes after the election of Eisenhower in 1952; and (vi) the impact of McCarthyism on the lives on ordinary Americans.


In this course, Professor Mark White (Queen Mary University of London) explores the presidency of Harry Truman (1945-53). In the first module, we think about Truman’s rise to power and how he became President in April 1945. In the second, we think about his attitude towards the Soviet Union, before turning in the third to his transformation of the US national security system with the launch of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, as well as the National Security Act 1947. In the fourth and fifth modules, we turn from foreign policy to domestic policy, thinking first about McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and then about other aspects of Truman’s domestic policy, including his response to the strike wave of 1945-46 and his Fair Deal.


Mark White is Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in US foreign policy in the Cold War and the US presidency since 1945. His recent publications include Against the President: Dissent and Decision-Making in the White House (2007) and The Presidency of Bill Clinton: The Legacy of a New Domestic and Foreign Policy (2012)

Cite this Lecture

APA style

White, M. (2019, December 19). The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53 - McCarthyism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

White, M. "The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53 – McCarthyism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Dec 2019,