What were the Cold War fears of the American people in the aftermath of the Second World War? How successfully did the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower address these fears?
In the years following the end of World War II, the American population's attention was diverted to one threat: that of a Communist takeover by Soviet Russia. The Eisenhower Administration responded to the crisis by promoting government investments into defense systems and education; such responses did not completely eliminate the fear of a Communist takeover. As a whole, communism was the direct antithesis of the American principles of democracy and free-enterprise. Communism promoted social, political, and global equality under the rigid control of a central government. Specific reactions both by the general American population and the Eisenhower Administration will help identify the effects of the threat of communism in the United States.
The fears of communism in the United States can be best demonstrated in McCarthyism, a time period in the United States consisting of fears of a communist takeover from the inside. Senator Joseph McCarthy argued that the threat of communism arose not from the presence of the Soviet Union, but from "communists" living in America. The role of McCarthy as a demagogue aroused Americans to suspect even slight criticism of the American government as a form of communism. Several so-called "communists" were deported to the Soviet Union despite being legal American citizens. Document A notes additional fears that fed into McCarthyism. For example, the people "fear[ed] the men in the Kremlin... [and] what they [would] do to [their] friends around them". Eisenhower conceded to the fact that the fear of communism had indeed delved into the core of American society. In his press conference (Doc. A), Eisenhower further noted that the American people were "fearing what unwise investigators [would] do... here at home as they [tried] to combat...
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