Joseph Raymond McCarthy (1908-1957) was an American politician who served as a [Republican](https://doctorparadox.net/the-gop-is-3-cults-in-a-trenchcoat/) U.S. senator from Wisconsin from 1947 until his death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1957. He was born in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, and attended Marquette University, but dropped out after one year to work as a grocery store manager and a chicken farmer.
McCarthy began his political career as a circuit court judge in Wisconsin, and later served as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953. In 1950, he gained national attention with a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he claimed to have a list of 205 known communists in the State Department.
# McCarthy's anti-communist hysteria
Over the next several years, McCarthy became a controversial figure for his aggressive tactics in pursuing alleged communists and communist sympathizers in government, the military, and the entertainment industry. He conducted public hearings and investigations, often making unfounded accusations and using intimidation tactics. The term [McCarthyism](https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/mccarthyism/) is now used as a metaphor to refer to any attempt at chilling dissent through a flurry of false accusations designed to whip up fear and hysteria without proof.
McCarthy's tactics eventually drew criticism from both political parties and the media. In 1954, he came under scrutiny during the Army-McCarthy hearings, which were televised nationally. McCarthy's aggressive questioning and attacks on witnesses eventually led to his downfall, as public opinion turned against him. He was officially censured by the Senate on 2 counts in December, 1954 -- after which biographers report that he began to decline physically and emotionally, becoming a "pale ghost of his former self", in the words of Fred J. Cook.
McCarthy died of liver failure in 1957 at the age of 48. His legacy remains controversial, with some viewing him as a patriotic crusader against [[Communism]] and others as a reckless [demagogue](https://doctorparadox.net/people-data/demagogues/) who damaged the reputation of the U.S. government and the American people.