May 2, 1957

Sen. Joe McCarthy died at the age of 48. The Republican from Wisconsin was the leading anti-communist figure for whom the phrase McCarthyism was coined. He was the chairman of Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations (now the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs) and led investigations into Americans who were deemed communists. Many lives were ruined by accusations but in the end, McCarthy himself was censured by the United States Senate. In his final act in the Senate, McCarthy opposed the nomination to the Supreme Court of William J. Brennan, who had called his investigations “witch hunts.” McCarthy died from acute hepatitis of the liver, which is thought to have been caused by alcoholism.

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