Pat McCarran

Pat McCarran

Infobox Senator
name = Pat McCarran

jr/sr =United States Senator
party =Democratic
term_start = March 4, 1933
term_end = September 28, 1954
alongside =
preceded = Tasker Oddie
succeeded = Ernest S. Brown
date of birth = birth date|1876|8|8
place of birth = Reno, Nevada
dead = dead
date of death = death date and age|1954|9|28|1876|8|8
place of death = Hawthorne, Nevada
spouse =
religion =Roman Catholic

Patrick Anthony McCarran (August 8, 1876 – September 28, 1954) was a Democratic United States Senator from Nevada from 1933 until 1954, and was noted for his strong anti-Communist stance.

Early life and career

Pat McCarran was born in Reno, Nevada, the child of Irish immigrants. He attended the University of Nevada, Reno, but had to withdraw to work on the family sheep ranch when his father suffered an injury. He passed the state bar exam in 1905, after studying law independently. In 1903 he became a member of the State legislature and after earning his law degree he became district attorney of Nye County (1907–09).

McCarran was also Nevada Chief Justice (1917–18), chairman of the Nevada State Board of Parole Commissioners (1913–18) and chairman of the Nevada State Board of Bar Examiners (1919–32). A member of the Democratic Party, McCarran ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 1916 and 1926. In 1932 he ran a third time, securing the Democratic nomination and defeating Republican incumbent Tasker Oddie, becoming Nevada's first native-born U.S. Senator. During the 1930s, McCarran became well-known as one of the few Congressional Democrats who totally rejected the New Deal.


He sponsored laws concerned with the nation's security, including the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, the Federal Airport Act of 1945 and the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946. He was also an early advocate of a separate Air Force. An admirer of General Francisco Franco of Spain, McCarran was nicknamed the “Senator from Madrid” by the columnist Drew Pearson because of his efforts to increase foreign aid to Spain. McCarran’s other favorite foreign leader was Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek of China, whose loss of mainland China in 1949 was blamed by McCarran on alleged Soviet spies in the State Department. In 1952, McCarran attended a dinner hosted by the Kuomintang Chinese Ambassador to Washington together with Senators Joseph McCarthy and William Knowland that began with the toast "Back to the mainland!."

After the Second World War, McCarran established himself as one of the Senate's most powerful anti-Communists. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, McCarran created and was the first chairman of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee that investigated the administrations headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. In 1951, investigators from the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee seized the records of the Institute of Pacific Relations. McCarran made much of these records when questioning the Sinologist Owen Lattimore during twelve days of acrimonious testimony in February 1951. It was McCarran who subsequently pushed very strongly for Lattimore to be indicted for alleged acts of perjury during his testimony. Lattimore's lawyer Abe Fortas accused McCarran of deliberately asking questions about arcane and obscure matters that took place in the 1930s in hopes that Lattimore wouldn't be able to recall them properly, thereby giving grounds for a perjury indictment because of discrepancies between the I.P.R. records and Lattimore's testimony.

In September 1950 he was the chief sponsor of the McCarran Internal Security Act. This legislation required registration with the Attorney General of the American Communist Party and affiliated organizations, and established the Subversive Activities Control Board to investigate possible Communist-action and Communist-front organizations so they could be required to register. Due to numerous hearings, delays and appeals, the act was never enforced, even with regard to the Communist Party of the United States itself, and the major provisions of the act were found to be unconstitutional in 1965 and 1967. [cite book
last = Fried
first = Richard M.
year = 1990
title = Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective
publisher = Oxford University Press
pages = 187
id = ISBN 0-19-504361-8

In June 1952, McCarran joined Francis Walter in instigating the passing of the McCarran-Walter Act; a bill that imposed more rigid restrictions on entry quotas to the United States. It also stiffened the existing law relating to the admission, exclusion and deportation of "dangerous" aliens as defined by the McCarran Internal Security Act. In response to the act he made a well known statement:

cquote|I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. America is indeed a joining together of many streams which go to form a mighty river which we call the American way. However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States. ... I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation's downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation. [Senator Pat McCarran, Congressional Record, March 2, 1953, p. 1518] The immigration provisions of the act were later superseded by the 1965 Immigration Act, but the power of the government to deny visas for ideological reasons remained on the books another 25 years after that.

Cartoonist Walt Kelly introduced a new character into his Pogo comic strip at this time called 'Mole MacCaroney'. Mole's near-blindness and concerns about 'germs' were seen as an attack on McCarran and his immigration-restriction policies. Critics of Kelly pointed to the statement above, claiming McCarran was not anti-immigration, but was opposed to taking in more immigrants than could be assimilated easily.

Pat McCarran remained in the Senate until his death in Hawthorne, Nevada in 1954. In 1960, the state of Nevada donated a bronze statue of McCarran to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.

Popular culture

It is said that McCarran is the basis for the characterization of the corrupt U.S. Senator Pat Geary in "The Godfather, Part II".Fact|date=November 2007

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is named after the Senator.

McCarran Blvd. is a major ring road in Reno, Nevada.


References and Further Reading

*cite book
last = Fried
first =Richard M.
title = "Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective"
publisher = Oxford University Press
date =1990
id = ISBN 0-19-504361-8.

*cite book
last = Klingaman
first =William
title = "The Encyclopedia of the McCarthy Era"
publisher = New York : Facts on File
date =1996
id = ISBN 0816030979

*cite book
last = Ybarra
first =Michael
title = Washington Gone Crazy: Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt
publisher = Steerforth Publishing
date =2004
id = ISBN 1586420658

*cite book
last =Edwards
first = Jerome E.
title = Pat McCarran, Political Boss of Nevada
publisher = University of Nevada Press
date =1982
id = ISBN 0874170710

*cite book
last =Newman
first =Robert P.
title ="Owen Lattimore And The "Loss" of China"
publisher = Berkeley : University of California Press
date =1992
id = ISBN 0520073886

*cite book
last =Schrecker
first =Ellen
title ="No Ivory Tower : McCarthyism and the Universities"
publisher = New York : Oxford University Press,
date =1986
id = ISBN 0195035577.

*cite book
last =Schrecker
first =Ellen
title ="Many Are The Crimes : McCarthyism In America"
publisher = Boston ; London : Little, Brown
date =1998
id = ISBN 0316774707

*cite web
last =Hopkins
first = A. D.
title = Pat McCarran, Perennial Politician
work = The First 100; Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas
publisher = Stephens Media Group
date = 1999
url =
accessdate =

*cite web
title = Patrick McCarran (1876-1954)
work = Las Vegas: An Unconventional History
publisher = American Experience, PBS
date = 2005
url =
accessdate =

By Pat McCarran

*cite book
last = McCarran
first = Pat
title = Three years of the Federal Administrative Procedure Act: A study in Legislation
publisher = Georgetown Law Journal Association
date =1950
id =

*cite book
last = McCarran
first = Pat
title = Build the West to Build the Nation; Address Before Guests And Members of the Board of Trustees of Builders of the West, Inc.
publisher =
date =
id =

*cite book
last = McCarran
first = Pat
title = Displaced Persons: Facts Versus Fiction
publisher = U.S. Government Printing Office
date =
id =

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