Army-McCarthy Hearings


Throughout his years as a Senator, Joseph McCarthy did far too many things wrong. He lied, and cheated, and ruined lives. Ironically, what led to his downfall was a mistake on his assistant’s fault. Roy Cohn was a good friend of McCarthy’s, and it didn’t come as much of a surprise that he was the one that McCarthy chose to head the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations. At this role, Cohn did well, proving himself useful. What most people didn’t know about young Roy Cohn is that he was gay. The man who was rumored to be his lover, David Schine, was his choice for assistant at his job for McCarthy. This all worked well until 1953 when Schine was drafted into the Army. Cohn would have none of this. He campaigned hard for Schine to gain special privileges that would allow him to continue working for McCarthy, but the Army was aware that it would be unfair to grant these. Cohn soon realized that there was little chance of him getting what he wanted, so he increased his intensity. He claimed that he would “wreck the Army” if they didn’t release his friend. These heated words, and McCarthy’s continued investigations into communists in the defense department lead to the Army-McCarthy hearings. These were hosted by the Senate to iron out the difficulties between the two groups.

Joseph Welch was head of counsel for the United States Army during the hearings. He made accurate accusations against Cohn for his illegal action towards the Army, while McCarthy did his best to pinpoint communist subversives involved in our defense department. Anything that the Senator could do to tear Joseph Welch apart was considered fair game. When Welch asked Cohn to reveal his list of 130 communists in defense plants, McCarthy went too far. He knew that the list didn’t exist, so he stood up, and he accused Welch of aiding the communist cause through his association with Fred Fisher, a young lawyer at his firm. Fisher had been a member of the National Lawyer’s guild after he had graduated from college. The guild was known for its left-wing beliefs, and was often referred to as the legal arm of the communist party. The young lawyer was no longer a member of the guild. Joseph Welch had had enough, so he interrupted McCarthy in the line that is said to have destroyed McCarthyism; “Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness... Have you no sense of decency sir? At long last, have you left no decency?”

Within six months of those historic words, Joseph McCarthy was censured. Three years later, he was dead, and McCarthy was no more.

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