Forum: Richard Hofstadter's The Age of Reform after Fifty Years
In December 1954, the United States Senate voted 67-22 to censure the junior senator from Wisconsin. Joe McCarthy had been drawing increasing criticism for his bullying tactics in ferreting out alleged communists and communist sympathizers within the federal civil service and elsewhere. In the wake of the Army-McCarthy hearings of the preceding spring (and especially after the dramatic televised confrontation with Army counsel Joseph Welch), the tide of public opinion finally turned against McCarthy. Still, his demagogic campaign had ruined the careers of scores of American citizens, from civil servants to artists, and had raised disturbing questions about room for political dissent within a democracy during the height of the Cold War.
Gillis Harp is professor of history at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 1999. He is author most recendy of Brahmin Prophet: Phillips Brooks and the Path of Liberal Protestantism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).