In order to allow for the installation of scaffolding and floor, statuary, and artwork protection in conjunction with the Dome Restoration Project, the Rotunda of the Capitol will be closed from Monday, July 27 through Monday, September 7. While the Rotunda is unavailable for tours, an alternate tour route will be provided. The Capitol Visitor Center is open during the closure of the Rotunda and will offer special activities which do not require advance reservations. You can also download our new U.S. Capitol Rotunda app.

Joseph McCarthy: America on Trial 1953-1954

As America and the Soviet Union faced off in the Cold War, sensational charges of Soviet spying triggered congressional investigations. In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican, accused the State Department of harboring “known Communists.” When McCarthy became Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations three years later, he set out to prove his charges.

McCarthy called hundreds of witnesses, browbeating and intimidating them. His charges of Communist subversion in the U.S. Army culminated in the 1954 televised Army–McCarthy hearings. When Army Counsel Joseph Welch challenged the senator’s reckless charges, asking, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” McCarthy’s support eroded. The Senate later censured him for conduct unbecoming a senator.

"Senator Ervin: Do we have the manhood in the Senate to stand up to a challenge of that kind?
Senator Arthur V. Watkins: I think we do. I may be a coward, but I will not compromise with that kind of attack. . . . I will not compromise on matters of principle.
—Congressional Record, November 16, 1954

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”
—Army Counsel Joseph Welch, June 9, 1954

History of Congress and the Capitol

The Senate 1945-Present

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Army Special Counsel Joseph Welch...
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Army Special Counsel Joseph Welch listens in frustration as Senator Joseph McCarthy displays what he considers to be a nationwide network of Communist Party organizations.

Army Special Counsel Joseph Welch listens in frustration as Senator Joseph McCarthy displays what he considers to be a nationwide network of Communist Party organizations.

© Bettmann/CORBIS

Army Special Counsel Joseph Welch listens in frustration as Senator Joseph McCarthy displays what he considers to be a nationwide network of Communist Party organizations.

Army Special Counsel Joseph Welch listens in frustration as Senator Joseph McCarthy displays what he considers to be a nationwide network of Communist Party organizations.

© Bettmann/CORBIS

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