A Divided Union

Post War – The seeds of the Cold War and anti-communism

1945 -- Roosevelt dies succeeded by Truman a democrat
Truman was a supporter of the ‘New Deal’ and shared Roosevelt’s belief that the Government should help make society a fairer place, but he faced strong opposition from congress.

President Truman

1947 HUAC -- The US Government did not want the spread of communist sympathy throughout the US. Taken within context at this point in history the USSR was occupying Eastern Europe, against the wishes of the US and UK. Stalin claimed this was as protection against a further attack from Germany, however people in the US believed there may have been other motives, such as to spread Communism. HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee) was set-up. In 1947 Truman allowed the head of the FBI J Edgar Hoover set up the Federal Employee Loyalty Program. This let the FBI investigate if government employees were members of the communist party. Between 1947-50, 3 million people were investigated and 212 were forced out of their jobs.


1947: The Hollywood Ten -- They refused to answer any questions from HUAC claiming it was against the first Amendment of the Constitution. They were jailed for contempt and ‘blacklisted’.

Hiss Scare 1948-1950 – This too was a HUAC investigation; Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss of having spied for the Soviet Union in the 1930s when Hiss had been employed at the State Department. Chambers claimed that he and Hiss had belonged to the same espionage ring and that Hiss had given him copies of secret State Department documents. Richard M. Nixon took up the case; a jury found Hiss guilty and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Rosenberg Case -- The USSR developed the A-Bomb in 1949, 4 years earlier than US scientists had predicted. In 1950 Klaus Fuchs was convicted and this led to suspicions against Julius Rosenberg and his wife. They were found guilty of stealing US military secrets and were executed.

1950: McCarran Act -- The Hiss and Rosenberg cases led to the McCarran act passed by Congress against Truman’s wishes. This stated that all communists should be registered with the US government and they could not carry a US passport or work in defence.