One evening in 1950 a Houston couple entered a Chinese restaurant. The woman, a radio writer, wanted the proprietor’s help in producing a program on recent Chinese history. Overhearing their conversation, a nearby man rushed out, phoned the police, and informed them that people were "talking Communism." The couple was immediately arrested and jailed for 14 hours before the police concluded they had no case. At about the same time a policeman in Wheeling, West Virginia, discovered some penny-candy machines dispensing goodies with tiny geography lessons. One lesson, under the hammer-and-sickle Soviet flag, read: "USSR Population 211,000,000. Capitol Moscow. Largest country in the world." "This is a terrible thing to expose our children to," pronounced the city manager Robert Plummer when informed. He quickly had the sinister sweets removed to protect the innocent from the knowledge of the Soviet Union. The preceding is an example of the extent to which the national hysteria of the nineteen-fifties reached. The results of the Cold War against communism had quite an opposite effect compared to its original intentions of preserving freedom during the red scare.
The early 1950’s was a time of emotional stress for much of the United States. With the USSR and the USA emerging from the second World War as major world powers, neither wished to give up their newly acquired land. Both countries following imperialist ideas attempted to spread their government across the world. America, insecure about its power to uphold a democratic government in foreign nations feared a communist invasion from their Cold War foe, Russia. A hysteria swept across the United States as American paranoia of a loss of personal rights increased. President Harry Truman’s thoughts summed up the nation’s feelings toward communists with, "The Reds, phonies and parlor pinks seem to be banded together and are becoming a national danger." Truman’s declaration that the United States must protect the "freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of enterprise," was an attempt to win over the public’s support for anti-communism . Propaganda sprouted across the country, declaring that citizens would lose their personal rights to communism if it were allowed to flourish. However the United States’ ideals of preserving the personal rights of its citizens were reversed on March 25, 1947, as President Truman issued Executive Order 9835 which authorized investigations into the beliefs and associations of all federal employees. Thus the catalysis had entered the equation, if the President is frightened the people must be as well.
President Harry Truman and the United States’ fear of communism was expressed through the Truman Doctrine. Expressed by the President was that wherever aggression threatened peace or freedom, America’s security was involved, and it would be necessary to "…support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures…Every American Communist is potentially an espionage agent…requiring only the direct instruction of a Soviet superior to make the potentiality a reality…within the United States, Communist penetration should be exposed and eliminated…" America feared that the communists would be able to infiltrate the government system and violently uproot the United States "free" society. This was the beginning of the hysteria. Citizens across the nation were crazed with the notion that they would be invaded and their personal rights stripped from them.
Truman’s personal attack against the communists was his radical movement of executing Executive Order 9835. This "…authorized investigations into the beliefs and associations of all federal employees." Between the launching of his security program in March 1947 and December 1952, some 6.6 million persons were investigated. Not a single case of espionage was uncovered, though about 500 persons were dismissed in dubious cases of "questionable loyalty." All of this was conducted with secret evidence, secret and often paid informers, and neither judge nor jury. In the process of ratting out communists in order to preserve American citizens’ rights, the personal rights of millions of people were destroyed. As early as 1938 the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) emerged. Within the first few days of its existence, witnesses charged some 640 organizations, 483 newspapers, and 280 labor unions with being communistic. Witnesses even questioned the loyalty of the Boy Scouts, the Camp Fire Girls, and child movie star Shirley Temple. The HUAC was not the only organization to seek out communists.