Score: /25 U. S. Life During the Cold War Lesson 7-3

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U.S. Life During the Cold War

Lesson 7-3 (Non-MC3) Name: ____Lesson Plan & Answer Key___________ Hour: ______

A PowerPoint May be Available for this Lesson

Objectives: Examine issues that challenged Americans in the post-WWII era, such as domestic anticommunism (McCarthyism), labor, poverty, health care, and infrastructure. (HSCE 8.2.2, 8.2.4)

Foundation Material: Silent reading of textbook pages 546-553 (old book 579-585). (10 minutes)
Additional Foundation Material: Watch the 9-minute video entitled “The Cold War: Part 4 - Reds Under the Bed” located on the Internet at (10 minutes)
Identification of Key Concepts/People/Events: Write out a full description for the following. (10 minutes)

  1. Red Scare: spread of fear in the U.S. that Communists were trying to take over the world

  1. McCarthyism: A time of intense investigation which turned into a witch hunt for Communists. A search for disloyalty based on flimsy evidence and irrational fears.

  1. Nuclear Fallout: The radiation left over a blast. Americans prepared for a surprise Soviet attack.

Mini-Lecture and Note-Taking: Use the information provided during our class discussion to complete the following statements or answer the questions. All answers must be complete and legible to receive credit. (15 minutes)

  1. During the 1950s, Americans were caught up in the ___Red Scare____. It began in September 1945 with a Soviet defector who reported that Soviet spies were inside the U.S. looking for information about the ___atomic bomb___. This led to fear of a Communist ___subversion____, or a plot to overthrow the government.

  1. In 1947, President Truman set up a ____loyalty review program____ to screen federal employees to test their loyalty. Over 2,000 people lost their jobs. The FBI, under director ___J. Edgar Hoover____, infiltrated groups and wire-tapped telephones. He also urged the House Un-American Activities Committee to hold public hearings on subversion. One of the hearings focused on the __film___ industry. Many in Hollywood refused to testify and were ___blacklisted____.

  1. In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a magazine editor, testified that several government officials were ___spies___. One of the spies was ___Alger Hiss___ of the State Department. Hiss denied this charge, but was later found guilty. Hiss was also convicted of ___perjury___, or lying under oath. An even more famous case of the time was that of ____Ethel and Julius Rosenberg___ were found guilty of selling atomic secrets to the Soviets and they were executed.

  1. In 1949, the Red Scare grew worse. The Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb and ___China___ fell to the Communists. Many Americans believed that they were losing the Cold War and that Communists had infiltrated the government. In February of 1950, Senator ___Joseph McCarthy___ claimed that he had a list of 205 Communists working in the State Department. He accused many politicians and others of being Communists. He never produced the list as proof.

  1. The ___McCarran Act____ was passed in 1950. This law required all Communist organizations to register with the government. The groups were also forced to share their records with the government. The law stopped Communists from getting ___passports____ or ___traveling abroad___. It stated that they could be arrested during emergencies. Truman tried to veto the bill, but Congress overrode the veto.

  1. In 1952, McCarthy became chairman of the Senate subcommittee on investigations. He then forced government officials to testify about Communist influences. McCarthy turned the investigations into ____witch hunts____ based on weak evidence and fear. He destroyed reputations with ____unfounded charges_____. This became known as ___McCarthyism___. McCarthy would badger witnesses and refuse to accept their answers. His methods left a sense of ___suspicion____ and ___guilt___ about the witnesses.

  1. In 1954, McCarthy began to question members of the United States ___Army___. McCarthy’s investigation was aired on ____television____ and millions of Americans watched. McCarthy’s popularity decreased as people finally challenged him and his methods. Also in 1954, the Senate passed a vote of ___censure___, or formal disapproval, against McCarthy. His influence was gone and he faded from public view.

  1. The Red Scare and the spread of nuclear weapons shaped everyday life in the United States during the 1950s. Americans were upset when the Soviet Union tested the powerful ___H-bomb___. They began to prepare for a surprise Soviet attack.

  1. Americans set up special areas as ___bomb shelters____. Also, as they did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, students practiced ____bomb drills_____ called “duck-and-cover” drills. Experts warned that these measures would not protect people from the initial blast of a nuclear bomb or the ____fallout____ (radiation left after the blast) and that for each person killed by the blast, ___four more____ would die from fallout.

  1. The fear of communism influenced American ____movies____ and ____writing____ (fiction). Many movies focused on FBI activities in spy cases. Novels described the effects of nuclear war.

Reinforcement Activity - Identifying Key Details (12 points): Below are three key ideas that came from this section of our studies on the Cold War at home (indicated by Roman numerals). Below each key idea is an important detail statement. Use your textbook reading assignment pages to complete the statements.
I. Public accusations and trials followed in the wake of fears of communism and spies.

  1. The Red Scare began when Igor Gouzenko defected with documents revealing a Soviet effort to infiltrate organizations and ___government agencies______.

  2. ___Subversion______ is an effort to secretly weaken a society and overthrow its government.

  3. Between 1947 and 1951 more than 6 million ____federal employees_____ were screened for their loyalty to the U.S. government.

  4. FBI Director _____J. Edgar Hoover_______ urged the HUAC to hold public hearings on Communist subversion.

  5. People who used their Fifth Amendment rights to protect themselves from self-incrimination were often ____blacklisted____, meaning they were refused work.

  6. The University of California required its faculty members to take ___loyalty oaths___ and fired those who refused.

II. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy used the fear of communism to increase his own power and destroy the reputations of many people.

  1. McCarthy claimed he had a list with the names of 205 Communists working for the ___State Department______.

  2. McCarthy distributed a booklet called ___The Party of Betrayal____, which accused ____Democratic Party_____ leaders of corruption and protecting Communists.

  3. McCarthy became chairman of the _____Senate Subcommittee on Investigations____, after Republicans won control of Congress in 1952.

  4. In 1954, the Senate passed a vote of ___censure____ against McCarthy—one of the most serious criticisms it can level against a Senate member.

III. Obsessed with fear of a nuclear attack, many Americans took steps to protect themselves.

  1. To protect themselves from a nuclear bomb, some families built backyard ____fallout shelters_____ and stocked them with canned goods.

  2. Worries about nuclear war and Communism fed people's imagination and soon appeared in popular ___fiction___ writing, among other media.

Reinforcement Activity (Optional): Watch the 10-minute YouTube video entitled “Duck and Cover” located on the Internet at (if time allows)


Extension Activity - Exploring McCarthyism (Optional): Throughout the 1940s and 1950s America was overwhelmed with concerns about the threat of communism growing in Eastern Europe and Asia. Capitalizing on those concerns, a young Senator named Joseph McCarthy made a public accusation that more than two hundred “card-carrying” communists had infiltrated the United States government. Though eventually his accusations were proven to be untrue, and he was censured by the Senate for unbecoming conduct, his zealous campaigning ushered in one of the most repressive times in 20th-century American history and politics. His efforts became known as McCarthyism. To learn more, visit the Internet site below and then answer the questions that follow: (if time allows)
A. What role do you believe these documents played in the anti-communist hysteria that engulfed the U.S. during the Cold War?

A 1947 comic book published by the Catechetical Guild Educational Society warning of the dangers of a Communist takeover.

answers will vary

B. How were the McCarthy hearings similar to the Salem which trials?
fear, accusations, little evidence
Check Your Understanding: Answer the following questions in the space provided below. Be careful, because each incorrect answer will be a one-point deduction from your overall worksheet score.

What political ideology did Americans strongly fear during the 1940s and 1950s?


What did the spread of this ideology in the U.S. become known as?

the Red Scare

Who accused government officials, entertainers, and others of being communist spies?

Joseph McCarthy

What did the Soviets build and test that really fueled U.S. fears?

a Hydrogen Bomb (H-Bomb)

What did U.S. citizens build and stock with supplies to help ease their fears?

fallout shelters/bomb shelters

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