Literature Study GuidesEnemies From Within Speech

Enemies from Within Speech | Study Guide

Joseph McCarthy

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Course Hero. "Enemies from Within Speech Study Guide." March 2, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2023.


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Joseph McCarthy

Year Delivered



Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908–57) of Wisconsin delivered his Enemies from Within Speech on February 9, 1950.
  • In the speech McCarthy claimed to have personal knowledge of many Soviet spies working within the American federal government.
  • McCarthy's speech occurred in the context of the Cold War, a period of hostility between Western powers, led by the United States, and communist countries, led by the Soviet Union. The Cold War dominated American and global politics during the second half of the 20th century.
  • Because so many Americans feared the rise of communism, McCarthy's allegations of Soviet (communist) spies infiltrating the government alarmed the public.
  • McCarthy's accusations were a key element of the Second Red Scare, a period from about 1948 to 1953 during which many Americans were condemned for allegedly being or supporting communists, despite a lack of evidence. (The First Red Scare occurred in the years after a communist government was set up in Russia following its 1917 revolution.)
  • In his speech McCarthy identified specific individuals, claiming they were spies. He also played on partisan (biased) tensions between his Republican Party and the Democratic administration of President Harry Truman (1884–1972).


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