In 1950, the United States was gripped by a fear of communism. The Soviet Union had expanded its communist influence, and news of Soviet nuclear testing had many Americans fearing for their lives. Contributing to the hysteria was Joseph McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin who made headlines by claiming that Communist spies were working in the U.S. government. The fear and mistrust of this "Red Scare" affected people in all walks of life. It appeared as if no one was safe from investigation.