Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



Advisor/Committee Chair

Ryan Irwin


On February 19, 1954 Senator Joseph McCarthy made his return to Albany, New York to expunge any subversive elements within the defense industry, particularly at the Schenectady General Electric plant. McCarthy was willing to bring anyone down with him that he could. A man named Charles Rivers was called forth to testify on the first day of the hearings. Rivers did not know that he was being brought before Senator McCarthy as a suspected Communist, but McCarthy in turn did not know that Rivers did not even work for General Electric. Once he realized he had the wrong man, all the Senator could do was apologize by saying, “May I say that we sent out a subpoena for Charles Rivers who had been head of the military strategy of the Communist party in this area. I am inclined to think that we definitely have the wrong man. We should apologize to you.”[1] McCarthy believed the ends justified the means, even if that Machiavellian strategy hurt honest, hard-working people. The Albany Times Union ran a story on February 20, 1954 reporting that at the hearing of suspected Schenectady GE Communist Robert Northrup, Adele Northrup, Robert’s wife, jumped out of her seat, ran toward the bench where McCarthy was seated and shouted at him, “When you are smearing these people do you ever think of their families? Do you want him to lose his job?”[2] Northrup indeed lost his job, along with about a dozen other Schenectady GE workers, even if there was no proof against them and countless more had their reputations tarnished.