The Senator Who Stood Up to Joseph McCarthy When No One Else Would | History | Smithsonian Magazine
After passing out copies of the speech to the press gallery, Smith approached the Senate floor and began her “Declaration of Conscience.” In it, she addressed what she saw as McCarthy’s dangerous accusations and the partisan bickering it resulted in.
“Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism,” Smith said, in another thinly veiled jab at McCarthy’s tactics. Importantly, she was also quick to point out the Truman administration had failed to do enough to prevent the spread of communism at home and abroad. But her conclusion called on all politicians, regardless of party affiliation, to stand for the defense of civil liberties.
“It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques—techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life,” said Smith.