Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donoghue, Michael

Second Advisor

Avella, Steven

Third Advisor

Ball, Alan


The dominant political dynamic in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s was a paranoid focus on anticommunism and the perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union, a nation many believed was seeking global domination. As a result of these fears, dissenters were cast as disloyal, federal employees lost their jobs, the press was muzzled, the entertainment industry was purged, labor movements faced increased scrutiny, and others, like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, paid the ultimate price. While historians have focused considerable attention on the domestic impact of these anxieties, few have explored the diplomatic ramifications of the era and how it degraded America’s claims to leadership of the free world and its global image at a time when global alliances were central to America’s strategy of containing, and later rolling back, communism. In this dissertation, The Alliance Apart will internationalize the study of domestic anticommunism and explore how it affected diplomatic and cultural relations with the United Kingdom, a nation widely believed to hold a special relationship with the United States. Structured around five case studies, this dissertation will expose how anticommunism called into question America’s commitment to its founding and democratic ideals. These case studies are the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, McCarthyism, Internal Security legislation, Hewlett Johnson, and the aftermath of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean’s defection to the Soviet Union. The Alliance Apart will also expose the divergent paths both countries took in dealing with subversive threats. While the United States sought to remove subversive threats, the United Kingdom took a more measured approach and sought to preserve the rights of the accused. In highlighting the challenges anticommunism posed to Anglo-American relations, this dissertation will highlight the domestic influences of foreign relations and expose how domestic affairs permeated into the global sphere. While anticommunism never fractured the diplomatic ties that bound the United Kingdom and United States, it was never harmonious and faced significant strain.



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