Background to the Red Scare

Statue of Mao Zedong

Taken from
The Foreign Threat

The 1950's was a fearful time for Americans. The Cold War, which began after the end of World War II, was a period where Americans were extremely paranoid about the threat of Communism. These fears were heightened by the establishment of the People's Republic of China under Communist rule on October 1, 1949 following the defeat of the Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalists.The outbreak of the Korean War also heightened the Red Scare in the United States because people feared "losing" another Asian country to Communism.

The perceived threat from Asian made people feel wary toward anyone who had worked or lived in Asian. Organizations like the Institute of Pacific Relations and its members were put under constant surveillance.

The increase in paranoia also made it possible for political Conservatives to attack President Truman for not effectively fighting the Communists in Asian.

At the same time, many people believed that the Russians had already obtained the secret blueprints for atomic bomb production.


Next: Was the threat real?