The Age of Anxiety

On June 1, 1950, when the United States was gripped by fears of nuclear war and treason, when demagoguery was being practiced on a scale unparalleled in our history, one bright moment pierced the darkness.

The only female member of the U.S. Senate at that time, Margaret Chase Smith, quietly moved down the aisle and began to address her colleagues. She had drafted a speech she called a Declaration of Conscience and was gratified that six fellow Republican colleagues had allowed her to announce that they concurred. She delivered what, more than a half century later, remains one of the most remarkable political addresses ever heard in that “often-mocked senatorial ‘cave of winds.’” Simply, directly and eloquently she rebuked Senator Joe McCarthy and pronounced the dangers of McCarthyism.

 

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