First Red Scare
Overview
 
In American history
History of the United States (1918–1945)
The history of the United States from 1918 through 1945 covers the post-World War I era, the Great Depression, and World War II. After World War I, the U.S. rejected the Versailles Treaty and did not join the League of Nations....

, the First Red Scare of 1919–1920 was marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 and anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

. Concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and alleged spread in the American labor movement fueled the paranoia that defined the period.

The First Red Scare had its origins in the hyper-nationalism of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. At the war's end, following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, American authorities saw the threat of revolution in the actions of organized labor, including such disparate cases as the Seattle General Strike and the Boston Police Strike
Boston Police Strike
In the Boston Police Strike, the Boston police rank and file went out on strike on September 9, 1919 in order to achieve recognition for their trade union and improvements in wages and working conditions...

 and then in the bomb campaign
1919 United States anarchist bombings
The 1919 United States anarchist bombings were a series of bombings and attempted bombings carried out by anarchist followers of Luigi Galleani from April through June 1919...

 directed by anarchist groups at political and business leaders.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
In American history
History of the United States (1918–1945)
The history of the United States from 1918 through 1945 covers the post-World War I era, the Great Depression, and World War II. After World War I, the U.S. rejected the Versailles Treaty and did not join the League of Nations....

, the First Red Scare of 1919–1920 was marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 and anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

. Concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and alleged spread in the American labor movement fueled the paranoia that defined the period.

The First Red Scare had its origins in the hyper-nationalism of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. At the war's end, following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, American authorities saw the threat of revolution in the actions of organized labor, including such disparate cases as the Seattle General Strike and the Boston Police Strike
Boston Police Strike
In the Boston Police Strike, the Boston police rank and file went out on strike on September 9, 1919 in order to achieve recognition for their trade union and improvements in wages and working conditions...

 and then in the bomb campaign
1919 United States anarchist bombings
The 1919 United States anarchist bombings were a series of bombings and attempted bombings carried out by anarchist followers of Luigi Galleani from April through June 1919...

 directed by anarchist groups at political and business leaders. Fueled by labor unrest and the anarchist bombings, and then spurred on by Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 A. Mitchell Palmer's
Alexander Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer was Attorney General of the United States from 1919 to 1921. He was nicknamed The Fighting Quaker and he directed the controversial Palmer Raids.-Congressional career:...

 attempt to suppress radical organizations, it was characterized by exaggerated rhetoric, illegal search and seizures
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

, unwarranted arrests and detentions, and the deportation of several hundred suspected radicals and anarchists.

Bolshevism and the threat of revolution became the general explanation for challenges to the social order, even such unrelated events as incidents of interracial violence. Fear of radicalism was used to excuse such simple expressions of free speech as the display of certain flags and banners. The Red Scare effectively ended in the middle of 1920, after Attorney General Palmer forecast a massive radical uprising on May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

 and the day passed without incident.

Origins

The First Red Scare's origins lie in the subversive actions (both real and imagined) of foreign and leftist elements in the United States, especially militant followers of Luigi Galleani
Luigi Galleani
Luigi Galleani was an Italian anarchist active in the United States from 1901 to 1919, viewed by historians as an anarchist communist and an insurrectionary anarchist. He is best known for his enthusiastic advocacy of "propaganda of the deed", i.e...

, and in the attempts of the U.S. government to quell protest and gain favorable public views of America's entering World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 established the Committee on Public Information
Committee on Public Information
The Committee on Public Information, also known as the CPI or the Creel Committee, was an independent agency of the government of the United States created to influence U.S. public opinion regarding American participation in World War I...

 to circulate and distribute anti-German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and pro-Allied
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 propaganda and other news. To add to the effectiveness of the Committee, the Bureau of Investigation (the name for the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 until 1935) disrupted the work of German-American, union, and leftist organizations through the use of raids, arrests, agents provocateurs, and legal prosecution. Revolutionary
Revolutionary
A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.-Definition:...

 and pacifist
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 groups, such as the Socialist Party of America
Socialist Party of America
The Socialist Party of America was a multi-tendency democratic-socialist political party in the United States, formed in 1901 by a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party which had split from the main organization...

 and the Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

 (IWW; its members are known as Wobblies), strongly opposed the war. Many leaders of these groups, most notably Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs
Eugene Victor Debs was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World , and several times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States...

, were prosecuted for giving speeches urging resistance to the draft
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. Members of the Ghadar Party
Ghadar Party
The Ghadar Party was an organization founded by Punjabi Indians, in the United States and Canada with the aim to liberate India from British rule...

 were also put on trial in the Hindu German Conspiracy Trial
Hindu German Conspiracy Trial
The Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial commenced in the District Court in San Francisco, California on November 12, 1917 following the uncovering of the Indo German plot for initiating a revolt in India...

.

The effort was also helped by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, with the passing of the Espionage Act
Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

 in 1917 and its sister act the Sedition Act of 1918
Sedition Act of 1918
The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds...

. The Espionage Act made it a crime to interfere with the operation or success of the military, and the Sedition Act forbade Americans to use "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, flag
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

, or armed forces of the United States
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 during war.

After the war officially ended, the government investigations abated for a few months but did not cease. They soon resumed in the context of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Russian Civil War, and the Red Terror
Red Terror
The Red Terror in Soviet Russia was the campaign of mass arrests and executions conducted by the Bolshevik government. In Soviet historiography, the Red Terror is described as having been officially announced on September 2, 1918 by Yakov Sverdlov and ended about October 1918...

. To some Americans, this was a time of uncertainty and fear over the prospects of an anarchist, socialist or communist revolution in the United States.

Seattle General Strike

On January 21, 1919, 35,000 shipyard workers in Seattle went on strike seeking wage increases. They appealed to the Seattle Central Labor Council for support from other unions and found widespread enthusiasm. Within two weeks, more than 100 local unions joined in a call on February 3 for general strike to begin on the morning of February 6. The 60,000 total strikers paralyzed the city’s normal activities, like streetcar service, schools, and ordinary commerce, while their General Strike Committee maintained order and provided essential services, like trash collection and milk deliveries.

Even before the strike began, the press begged the unions to reconsider. In part they were frightened by some of labor’s rhetoric, like the labor newspaper editorial that proclaimed: "We are undertaking the most tremendous move ever made by labor in this country....We are starting on a road that leads – NO ONE KNOWS WHERE!" Daily newspapers saw the general strike as a foreign import: "This is America – not Russia," one said when denouncing the general strike. The non-striking part of Seattle's population imagined the worst and stocked up on food. Hardware stores sold their stock of guns.

Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson
Ole Hanson
Ole Hanson was an American politician who served as mayor of Seattle, Washington from 1918 to 1919. Hanson became a national figure promoting law and order when he took a hardline position during the 1919 Seattle General Strike...

 announced that he had 1500 police and 1500 federal troops on hand to put down any disturbances. He personally oversaw their deployment throughout the city. "The time has come," he said, "for the people in Seattle to show their Americanism....The anarchists in this community shall not rule its affairs." He promised to use them to replace striking workers, but never carried out that threat.

Meanwhile the national leadership of the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

 (AFL) and international leaders of some of the Seattle locals recognized how inflammatory the general strike was proving in the eyes of the American public and Seattle’s middle class. Press and political reaction made the general strike untenable, and they feared Seattle labor would lose gains made during the war if it continued. The national press called the general strike "Marxian" and "a revolutionary movement aimed at existing government." "It is only a middling step," said the Chicago Tribune, "from Petrograd to Seattle."

As early as February 8 some unions began to return to work at the urging of their leaders. Some workers went back to work as individuals, perhaps fearful of losing their jobs if the Mayor acted on his threats or in reaction to the pressure of life under the general strike. The executive committee of the General Strike Committee first recommended ending the general strike on February 8 but lost that vote. Finally on February 10, the General Strike Committee voted to end the strike the next day. The original strike in the shipyards continued.

Though the general strike collapsed because labor leadership viewed it as a misguided tactic from the start, Mayor Hanson took credit for ending the five-day strike and was hailed by the press. He resigned a few months later and toured the country giving lectures on the dangers of "domestic bolshevism." He earned $38,000 in 7 months, 5 times his annual salary as mayor. He published a pamphlet called Americanism versus Bolshevism.

Overman Committee

The Overman Committee
Overman Committee
The Overman Committee was a special subcommittee of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary chaired by North Carolina Democrat Lee Slater Overman. Between September 1918 and June 1919, it investigated German and Bolshevik elements in the United States...

 was a special 5-man subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary chaired by North Carolina Democrat Lee Slater Overman
Lee Slater Overman
Lee Slater Overman was a Democratic U.S. senator from the state of North Carolina between 1903 and 1930. He was born in Salisbury, N.C., the son of William H. and Mary E. Slater Overman. He attended Trinity College , Class of 1874, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity...

. First charged with investigating German subversion during World War I, its mandate was extended on February 4, 1919, just a day after the announcement of the Seattle General Strike, to study "any efforts being made to propagate in this country the principles of any party exercising or claiming to exercise any authority in Russia" and "any effort to incite the overthrow of the Government of this country. The Committee's hearings into Bolshevik propaganda, conducted from February 11 to March 10, 1919, developed an alarming image of Bolshevism as an imminent threat to the U.S. government and American values. The Committee's final report appeared in June 1919.

Archibald E. Stevenson
Archibald E. Stevenson
Archibald E. Stevenson was an American attorney and legislative researcher. Stevenson is best remembered for his work as Assistant Counsel of the Lusk Committee of the New York State Senate from 1919 to 1920, the activities of which led to a series of sensational raids and trials of self-professed...

, a New York attorney with ties to the Justice Department, probably as a "volunteer spy", testified on January 22, 1919, during the German phase of the subcommittee's work. He established that anti-war and anti-draft activism during World War I, which he described as pro-German activity, had now transformed itself into propaganda "developing sympathy for the Bolshevik movement.". America's wartime enemy, though defeated, had exported an ideology that now ruled Russia and threatened America anew. "The Bolsheviki movement is a branch of the revolutionary socialism of Germany. It had its origin in the philosophy of Marx and its leaders were Germans." He cited the propaganda efforts of John Reed and gave many examples from the foreign press. He told the Senators that "We have found money coming into this country from Russia."

The Senators were particularly interested in how Bolshevism had united many disparate elements on the left, including anarchists and socialists of many types, "providing a common platform for all these radical groups to stand on." Senator Knute Nelson
Knute Nelson
Knute Nelson was an Norwegian American politician. A Republican, he served in the Wisconsin Legislature and Minnesota Legislature, in the U.S. House of Representatives, as the 12th Governor of Minnesota, and as a U.S...

, Republican of Minnesota, responded by enlarging Bolshevism's embrace to include an even larger segment of political opinion: "Then they have really rendered a service to the various classes of progressives and reformers that we have here in this country." Other witnesses described the horrors of the revolution in Russia and the consequences of a comparable revolution in the United States: the imposition of atheism, the seizure of newspapers, assaults on banks and the abolition of the insurance industry. The Senators heard various views of women in Russia, including claims that women were made the property of the state.

The press reveled in the investigation and the final report, referring to the Russians as "assassins and madmen," "human scum," "crime mad," and "beasts." The occasional testimony by some who viewed the Russian Revolution favorably lacked the punch of its critics. One extended headline in February read:
Bolshevism Bared by R.E. Simmons
Former Agent in Russia of Commerce Department Concludes his Story to Senators
Women are 'Nationalized'
Official Decrees Reveal Depths of Degradation to Which They are Subjected by Reds
Germans Profit by Chaos
Factories and Mills are Closed and the Machinery Sold to Them for a Song


On the release of the final report, newspapers printed sensational articles with headlines in capital letters: "Red Peril Here", "Plan Bloody Revolution", and "Want Washington Government Overturned."

Anarchist bombings

April 1919 mail bombs

In late April 1919, approximately 36 booby trap bombs were mailed to prominent politicians, including the Attorney General of the United States, judges, businessmen (including John D. Rockefeller), and more tellingly, a lowly Bureau of Investigation field agent, R.W. Finch, who happened to be investigating the Galleanist organization.

The bombs were mailed in identical packages and were timed to arrive on May Day, the day of celebration of organized labor and the working class. A few of the packages went undelivered because they lacked sufficient postage. One bomb intended for Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson
Ole Hanson
Ole Hanson was an American politician who served as mayor of Seattle, Washington from 1918 to 1919. Hanson became a national figure promoting law and order when he took a hardline position during the 1919 Seattle General Strike...

, who had opposed the Seattle General Strike, arrived early and failed to explode as intended. Seattle police in turn notified the Post Office and other police agencies. On April 29, a package sent to U.S. Senator Thomas W. Hardwick
Thomas W. Hardwick
Thomas William Hardwick was an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia.Hardwick was born in Thomasville, Georgia. He graduated from Mercer University with a bachelor of arts degree in 1892 and received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia in 1893...

 of Georgia, a sponsor of the Anarchist Exclusion Act, exploded injuring his wife and housekeeper. On April 30, a post office employee in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 recognized 16 packages by their wrapping and interrupted their delivery. Another twelve bombs were recovered before reaching their targets.

June 1919 bombs

In June 1919, eight bombs far larger than those mailed in April exploded almost simultaneously in several U.S. cities. These new bombs were believed to contain up to twenty-five pounds of dynamite, and all were wrapped or packaged with heavy metal slugs designed to act as shrapnel. All of the intended targets had participated in some way with the investigation of or the opposition to anarchist radicals. Along with Attorney General Palmer, who was targeted a second time, the intended victims included a Massachusetts state representative and a New Jersey silk manufacturer. Fatalities included a New York City night watchman, William Boehner, and one of the bombers, Carlo Valdinoci, a Galleanist
Luigi Galleani
Luigi Galleani was an Italian anarchist active in the United States from 1901 to 1919, viewed by historians as an anarchist communist and an insurrectionary anarchist. He is best known for his enthusiastic advocacy of "propaganda of the deed", i.e...

radical who died in spectacular fashion when the bomb he placed at the home of Attorney General Palmer exploded in his face. Though not seriously injured, Attorney General Palmer and his family were thoroughly shaken by the blast, and their home was largely demolished.

All of the bombs were delivered with pink flyers bearing the title "Plain Words" that accused the intended victims of waging class war and promised: "We will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions." Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation tracked the flyer to a print shop owned by a anarchist, Andrea Salcedo, but never obtained sufficient evidence for a prosecution. Evidence from Valdonoci's death, bomb components, and accounts from participants later tied both bomb attacks to the Galleanists. Though some of the Galleanists were deported or left the country voluntarily, attacks by remaining members continued until 1932.

May Day 1919

The American labor movement had been celebrating its May Day holiday since the 1890s and had seen none of the violence associated with the day's events in Europe. On May 1, 1919, the left mounted especially large demonstrations, and violence greeted the normally peaceful parades in Boston, New York, and Cleveland. In Boston, police tried to stop a march that lacked a permit. In the ensuing melee both sides fought for possession of the Socialists' red flags. One policeman was stabbed and died. Later a mob attacked the Socialist headquarters. Police arrested 114, all from the Socialist side. Each side's newspapers provided uncritical support to their own the next day. In New York, soldiers in uniform burned printed materials at the Russian People's House and forced immigrants to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.

Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

 saw the worst violence. Leftists protesting the imprisonment of Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs
Eugene Victor Debs was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World , and several times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States...

 and promoting the campaign of Charles Ruthenberg
Charles Ruthenberg
Charles Emil Ruthenberg was an American Marxist politician and a founder and long-time head of the Communist Party USA .-Biography:Charles Emil Ruthenberg was born July 9, 1882 in Cleveland, Ohio...

, the Socialist candidate for mayor, planned to march through the center of the city. A group of Victory Loan
War bond
War bonds are debt securities issued by a government for the purpose of financing military operations during times of war. War bonds generate capital for the government and make civilians feel involved in their national militaries...

 workers, a nationalist organization whose members sold war bonds and thought themselves still at war against all forms of anti-Americanism, tried to block some of the marchers and a melee ensued
May Day Riots of 1919
The May Day Riots of 1919 were a series of violent demonstrations that occurred throughout Cleveland, Ohio on May 1 , 1919. The riots began when Socialist leader, Charles Ruthenberg organized a May Day parade of local trade unionists, socialists, communists, and anarchists to protest the jailing...

. A mob ransacked Ruthenberg's headquarters. Mounted police, army trucks, and tanks restored order. Two people died, forty were injured, and 116 arrested. Local newspapers noted that only 8 of those arrested were born in the United States. The city government immediately passed laws to restrict parades and the display of red flags.

With few dissents, newspapers blamed the May Day marchers for provoking the nationalists' response. The Salt Lake City Tribune did not think anyone had a right to march. It said: "Free speech has been carried to the point where it is an unrestrained menace." A few, however, thought the marches were harmless and that the marchers' enthusiasm would die down on its own if they were left unmolested.

Race riots

More than two dozen American communities, mostly urban areas or industrial centers, saw racial violence in the summer and early fall of 1919. Unlike earlier race riots in U.S. history, the 1919 riots were among the first in which blacks responded with resistance to the white attacks. Martial law was imposed in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, where men of the U.S. Navy led a race riot on May 10. Five white men and eighteen black men were injured in the riot. A Naval investigation found that four U.S. sailors and one civilian—all white men—were responsible for the outbreak of violence. On July 3, the 10th U.S. Cavalry, a segregated African-American unit founded in 1866, was attacked by local police in Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, 82 miles southeast of Tucson. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 6,177...

.
Two of the most violent episodes occurred in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. In Washington, D.C., white men, many in military uniforms, responded to the rumored arrest of a black man for rape with four days of mob violence, rioting and beatings of random black people on the street. When police refused to intervene, the black population fought back. When the violence ended, ten whites were dead, including two police officers, and 5 blacks. Some 150 people had been the victims of attacks. The rioting in Chicago starting on July 27. Chicago's beaches along Lake Michigan were segregated in practice, if not by law. A black youth who swam into the area customarily reserved for whites was stoned and drowned. Blacks responded violently when the police refused to take action. Violence between mobs and gangs lasted 13 days. The resulting 38 fatalities included 23 blacks and 15 whites. Injuries numbered 537 injured, and 1,000 black families were left homeless. Some 50 people were reported dead. Unofficial numbers were much higher. Hundreds of mostly black homes and businesses on the South Side were destroyed by mobs, and a militia force of several thousand was called in to restore order.

In mid-summer, in the middle of the Chicago riots, a "federal official" told the New York Times that the violence resulted from "an agitation, which involves the I.W.W., Bolshevism and the worst features of other extreme radical movements." He supported that claim with copies of negro publications that called for alliances with leftist groups, praised the Soviet regime, and contrasted the courage of jailed Socialist Eugene V. Debs with the "school boy rhetoric" of traditional black leaders. The Times characterized the publications as "vicious and apparently well financed," mentioned "certain factions of the radical Socialist elements," and reported it all under the headline: "Reds Try to Stir Negroes to Revolt."

In mid-October, government sources again provided the Times with evidence of Bolshevist propaganda targeting America's black communities that was "paralleling the agitation that is being carried on in industrial centres of the North and West, where there are many alien laborers." Vehicles for this propaganda about the "doctrines of Lenin and Trotzky" included newspapers, magazines, and "so-called 'negro betterment' organizations." Quotations from such publications contrasted the recent violence in Chicago and Washington, D.C. with "Soviet Russia, a country in which dozens of racial and lingual types have settled their many differences and found a common meeting ground, a country which no longer oppresses colonies, a country from which the lynch rope is banished and in which racial tolerance and peace now exist." The Times cited one publication's call for unionization: "Negroes must form cotton workers' unions. Southern white capitalists know that the negroes can bring the white bourbon South to its knees. So go to it."

Boston Police Strike

The American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

 (AFL) began granting charters to police unions in June 1919 when pressed to do so by local groups, and in just 5 months had recognized affiliate police unions in 37 cities. The Boston police
Boston Police Department
The Boston Police Department , created in 1838, holds the primary responsibility for law enforcement and investigation within the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest police departments in the United States...

 rank and file went out on strike on September 9, 1919 in order to achieve recognition for their union and improvements in wages and working conditions. Police Commissioner Edwin Upton Curtis
Edwin Upton Curtis
Edwin Upton Curtis was an American attorney and politician from Massachusetts who served as the 34th Mayor of Boston in 1895...

 denied that police officers had any right to form a union, much less one affiliated with a larger organization like the AFL. During the strike, Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 experienced two nights of lawlessness until several thousand members of the State Guard supported by volunteers restored order, though not without causing several deaths. The public, fed by lurid press accounts and hyperbolic political observers, viewed the strike with a degree of alarm out of proportion to the events, which ultimately produced only about $35,000 of property damage.

The strikers were called "deserters" and "agents of Lenin." The Philadelphia Public Ledger viewed the Boston violence in the same light as many other of 1919's events: "Bolshevism in the United States is no longer a specter. Boston in chaos reveals its sinister substance." President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, speaking from Montana, branded the walkout "a crime against civilization" that left the city "at the mercy of an army of thugs." The timing of the strike also happened to present the police union in the worst light. September 10, the first full day of the strike, was also the day a huge New York City parade celebrated the return of Gen. John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

, the hero of the American Expeditionary Force
American Expeditionary Force
The American Expeditionary Forces or AEF were the United States Armed Forces sent to Europe in World War I. During the United States campaigns in World War I the AEF fought in France alongside British and French allied forces in the last year of the war, against Imperial German forces...

.

A report from Washington, D.C. included this headline: "Senators Think Effort to Sovietize the Government Is Started." Senator Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot "Slim" Lodge was an American Republican Senator and historian from Massachusetts. He had the role of Senate Majority leader. He is best known for his positions on Meek policy, especially his battle with President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 over the Treaty of Versailles...

 saw in the strike the dangers of the national labor movement: "If the American Federation of Labor succeeds in getting hold of the police in Boston it will go all over the country, and we shall be in measureable distance of Soviet government by labor unions." The Ohio State Journal opposed any sympathetic treatment of the strikers: "When a policeman strikes, he should be debarred not only from resuming his office, but from citizenship as well. He has committed the unpardonable sin; he has forfeited all his rights."

Samuel Gompers
Samuel Gompers
Samuel Gompers was an English-born American cigar maker who became a labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor , and served as that organization's president from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924...

 of the AFL recognized that the strike was damaging labor in the public mind and advised the strikers to return to work. The Police Commissioner, however, remained adamant and refused to re-hire the striking policemen. He was supported by Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

, whose rebuke of Gompers earned him a national reputation. Famous as a man of few words, he put the anti-union position simply: "There is no right to strike against the public safety, anywhere, anytime."

The strike proved another setback for labor and the AFL immediately withdrew its recognition of police unions. Coolidge won the Republican nomination for Vice-President in the 1920 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1920
The United States presidential election of 1920 was dominated by the aftermath of World War I and a hostile response to certain policies of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president. The wartime economic boom had collapsed. Politicians were arguing over peace treaties and the question of America's...

.

Steel strike of 1919

Though the leadership of the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

 (AFL) opposed a strike in the steel industry, 98% of their union members voted to strike beginning on September 22, 1919. It shut down half the steel industry, including almost all mills in Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 246th most populous city in the United States....

; Chicago, Illinois; Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia; it is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area...

; Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Johnstown is a city in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States, west-southwest of Altoona, Pennsylvania and east of Pittsburgh. The population was 20,978 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Cambria County...

; Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

; Lackawanna, New York
Lackawanna, New York
Lackawanna is a city in Erie County, New York, U.S., located just south of the city of Buffalo in the western part of New York state. The population was 18,141 at the 2010 census. The name derives from the Lackawanna Steel Company...

; and Youngstown, Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Youngstown is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Mahoning County; it also extends into Trumbull County. The municipality is situated on the Mahoning River, approximately southeast of Cleveland and northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

.

The owners quickly turned public opinion against the AFL. As the strike began, they published information exposing AFL National Committee co-chairman William Z. Foster's radical past as a Wobblie and syndicalist
Syndicalism
Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

, and claimed this was evidence that the steelworker strike was being master-minded by radicals and revolutionaries. The steel companies played on nativist fears by noting that a large number of steelworkers were immigrants. Public opinion quickly turned against the striking workers. State and local authorities backed the steel companies. They prohibited mass meetings, had their police attack pickets and jailed thousands. After strikebreakers and police clashed with unionists in Gary, Indiana
Gary, Indiana
Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States. The city is in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area and is 25 miles from downtown Chicago. The population is 80,294 at the 2010 census, making it the seventh-largest city in the state. It borders Lake Michigan and is known...

, the U.S. Army took over the city on October 6, 1919, and martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 was declared. National guardsmen, leaving Gary after federal troops had taken over, turned their anger on strikers in nearby Indiana Harbor, Indiana.

Steel companies also turned toward strikebreaking and rumor-mongering to demoralize the picketers. They brought in between 30,000 and 40,000 African-American and Mexican American
Mexican American
Mexican Americans are Americans of Mexican descent. As of July 2009, Mexican Americans make up 10.3% of the United States' population with over 31,689,000 Americans listed as of Mexican ancestry. Mexican Americans comprise 66% of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States...

 workers to work in the mills. Company spies also spread rumors that the strike had collapsed elsewhere, and they pointed to the operating steel mills as proof that the strike had been defeated.

Congress conducted its own investigation, focused on radical influence upon union activity. In that context, U.S. Senator Kenneth McKellar
Kenneth McKellar
Kenneth Douglas McKellar was an American politician from Tennessee who served as a United States Representative from 1911 until 1917 and as a United States Senator from 1917 until 1953...

, a member of the Senate committee investigating the strike, proposed making one of the Philippine Islands a penal colony to which those convicted of an attempt to overthrow the government could be deported.

The Chicago mills gave in at the end of October. By the end of November, workers were back at their jobs in Gary, Johnstown, Youngstown, and Wheeling. The strike collapsed on January 8, 1920, though it dragged on in isolated areas like Pueblo and Lackawanna.

Coal Strike of 1919

The United Mine Workers
United Mine Workers
The United Mine Workers of America is a North American labor union best known for representing coal miners and coal technicians. Today, the Union also represents health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing workers and public employees in the United States and Canada...

 under John L. Lewis
John L. Lewis
John Llewellyn Lewis was an American leader of organized labor who served as president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1920 to 1960...

 announced a strike for November 1, 1919. They had agreed to a wage agreement to run until the end of World War I and now sought to capture some of their industry's wartime gains. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer was Attorney General of the United States from 1919 to 1921. He was nicknamed The Fighting Quaker and he directed the controversial Palmer Raids.-Congressional career:...

 invoked the Lever Act
Food and Fuel Control Act
The Food and Fuel Control Act, , also called the Lever Act or the Lever Food Act was a World War I era US law that among other things created the United States Food Administration and the Federal Fuel Administration.-Legislative history:...

, a wartime measure that made it a crime to interfere with the production or transportation of necessities. The law, meant to punish hoarding and profiteering, had never been used against a union. Certain of united political backing and almost universal public support, Palmer obtained an injunction on October 31 and 400,000 coal workers struck the next day. He claimed the President authorized the action, following a meeting with the severely ill President in the presence of his doctor. Palmer also asserted that the entire Cabinet had backed his request for an injunction. That infuriated Secretary of Labor Wilson who had opposed Palmer's plan and supported Gompers' view of the President's promises when the Act was under consideration. The rift between the Attorney General and the Secretary of Labor was never healed, which had consequences the next year when Palmer's attempts to deport radicals were frustrated by the Department of Labor.

Samuel Gompers
Samuel Gompers
Samuel Gompers was an English-born American cigar maker who became a labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor , and served as that organization's president from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924...

, President of the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

, protested that President Wilson and members of his Cabinet had provided assurances when the Act was passed that it would not be used to prevent strikes by labor unions. He provided detailed accounts of his negotiations with representatives of the administration, especially Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson
William Bauchop Wilson
William Bauchop Wilson was a American labor leader and politician. He is best remembered for his service as the first Secretary of Labor between 1913 and 1921 under President Woodrow Wilson.-Early life:...

. He also argued that the end of hostilities, even in the absence of a signed treaty, should have invalidated any attempts to enforce the Act's provisions. Nevertheless, he attempted to mediate between Palmer and Lewis, but after several days called the injunction "so autocratic as to stagger the human mind." The coal operators smeared the strikers with charges that Lenin and Trotsky had ordered the strike and were financing it, and some of the press echoed that language. Others used words like "insurrection" and "Bolshevik revolution." Eventually Lewis, facing criminal charges and sensitive to the propaganda campaign, withdrew his strike call, though many strikers ignored his action. As the strike dragged on into its third week, coal supplies were running low and public sentiment was calling for ever stronger government action. Final agreement came on December 10.

Palmer Raids


Despite two attempts on his life in April and June 1919, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer moved slowly to find a way to attack the source of the violence. An initial raid in July 1919 against a small anarchist group in Buffalo failed when a federal judge tossed out his case. In August, he organized the General Intelligence Unit within the Department of Justice and recruited J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

, a recent law school graduate, to head it. Hoover pored over arrest records, subscription records of radical newspapers, and party membership records to compile lists of resident aliens for deportation proceedings. On October 17, 1919, just a year after the Immigration Act of 1918 had expanded the definition of aliens that could be deported, the U.S. Senate demanded Palmer explain his failure to move against radicals.

Palmer launched his campaign against radicalism with two sets of police actions known as the Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

 in November 1919 and January 1920. Federal agents supported by local police rounded up large groups of suspected radicals, often based on membership in a political group rather than any action taken. Undercover informants and warrantless wiretaps (authorized under the Sedition Act
Sedition Act of 1918
The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds...

) helped to identify several thousand suspected leftists and radicals to be arrested.

Only the dismissal of most of the cases by Acting United States Secretary of Labor
United States Secretary of Labor
The United States Secretary of Labor is the head of the Department of Labor who exercises control over the department and enforces and suggests laws involving unions, the workplace, and all other issues involving any form of business-person controversies....

 Louis Freeland Post
Louis Freeland Post
Louis Freeland Post was the Assistant United States Secretary of Labor during the closing year of the Wilson administration, the period of the Palmer Raids and the Red Scare, where he had responsibility for the Bureau of Immigration.-Biography:Post opposed immigration restrictions and forcefully...

 limited the number of deportations to 556. Fearful of extremist violence and revolution, the American public initially supported the raids. Civil libertarians, the radical left, and legal scholars raised protests. Officials at the Department of Labor, especially Post, asserted the rule of law in opposition to Palmer's anti-radical campaign. Post faced a Congressional threat to impeach or censure him. He successfully defended his actions in two days of testimony before the House Rules Committee in June 1919 and no action was ever taken against him. Palmer testified before the same committee, also for two days, and stood by the raids, arrests, and deportation program. Much of the press applauded Post's work at Labor, while Palmer, rather than President Wilson, was largely blamed for the negative aspects of the raids.

Deportations

On December 21, the Buford, a ship the press nicknamed the "Soviet Ark," left New York harbor with 249 deportees. Of those, 199 had been detained in the November Palmer Raids
Palmer Raids
The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States. The raids and arrests occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer...

, with 184 of them deported because of their membership in the Union of Russian Workers
Union of Russian Workers
The Union of Russian Workers in the United States and Canada, commonly known as the "Union of Russian Workers" was an anarchist political association of Russian emigrants in the United States...

, an anarchist group that was a primary target of the November raids. Others on board, including the well-known radical leaders Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

 and Alexander Berkman
Alexander Berkman
Alexander Berkman was an anarchist known for his political activism and writing. He was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century....

, had not been taken in the Palmer Raids. Goldman had been convicted in 1893 of "inciting to riot" and arrested on many other occasions. Berkman had served 14 years in prison for the attempted murder of industrialist Henry Clay Frick
Henry Clay Frick
Henry Clay Frick was an American industrialist, financier, and art patron. He founded the H. C. Frick & Company coke manufacturing company, was chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, and played a major role in the formation of the giant U.S. Steel steel manufacturing concern...

 in 1892. Both were convicted in 1917 of interfering with military recruitment. Some of the 249 were leftists or anarchists or at least fell within the legal definition of anarchist because they "believed that no government would be better for human society than any kind of government." In beliefs they ranged from violent revolutionaries to pacifist advocates of non-resistance. Others belonged to radical organizations but disclaimed knowledge of the organization's political aims and had joined to take advantage of educational programs and social opportunities.

The U.S. War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 used the Buford as a transport ship in the Spanish-America War and in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and loaned it to the Department of Labor
United States Department of Labor
The United States Department of Labor is a Cabinet department of the United States government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and some economic statistics. Many U.S. states also have such departments. The...

 in 1919 for the deportation mission. A "strong detachment of marines" numbering 58 enlisted men and four officers made the journey and pistols were distributed to the crew. Its final destination was unknown as it sailed under sealed orders. Even the captain only learned his final destination while in Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 harbor for repairs, since the State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 found it difficult to make arrangements to land in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

. Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, though chosen, was not an obvious choice, since Finland and Russia were at war.

The notoriety of Goldman and Berkman as convicted anti-war agitators allowed the press and public to imagine that all the deportees had similar backgrounds. The New York Times called them all "Russian Reds." Most of the press approved enthusiastically. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote: "It is hoped and expected that other vessels, larger, more commodious, carrying similar cargoes, will follow in her wake." The New York Evening Mail
New York Evening Mail
The New York Evening Mail was an American daily newspaper published in New York City.The paper was made up of the New York Evening Express, which dated from 1836, and the Daily Advertiser. It was eventually merged with the Evening Telegram, which became the New York World-Telegram in 1927.From New...

said: "Just as the sailing of the Ark that Noah built was a pledge for the preservation of the human race, so the sailing of the Ark of the Soviet is a pledge for the preservation of America."

Expulsion of Socialists from the New York Assembly

On January 7, 1920, at the first session of the New York State Assembly
New York State Assembly
The New York State Assembly is the lower house of the New York State Legislature. The Assembly is composed of 150 members representing an equal number of districts, with each district having an average population of 128,652...

, Assembly Speaker Thaddeus C. Sweet
Thaddeus C. Sweet
Thaddeus Campbell Sweet was an American manufacturer and politician from New York. He represented New York's 32nd congressional district from 1923 to 1928.-Biography:...

 attacked the Assembly's five Socialist members, declaring they had been "elected on a platform that is absolutely inimical to the best interests of the state of New York and the United States." The Socialist Party, Sweet said, was "not truly a political party," but was rather "a membership organization admitting within its ranks aliens, enemy aliens, and minors." It had supported the revolutionaries in Germany, Austria, and Hungary
Hungarian Soviet Republic
The Hungarian Soviet Republic or Soviet Republic of Hungary was a short-lived Communist state established in Hungary in the aftermath of World War I....

, he continued, and consorted with international Socialist parties close to the Communist International. The Assembly suspended the five by a vote of 140 to 6, with just one Democrat supporting the Socialists. A trial in the Assembly, lasting from January 20 to March 11, resulted in a recommendation that the five be expelled and the Assembly voted overwhelmingly for expulsion on April 1, 1920.

Opposition to the Assembly's actions was widespread and crossed party lines. From the start of the process, former Republican Governor, Supreme Court Justice, and presidential candidate Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York , Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States , United States Secretary of State , a judge on the Court of International Justice , and...

 defended the Socialist members: "Nothing ... is a more serious mistake at this critical time than to deprive Socialists or radicals of their opportunities for peaceful discussion and thus to convince them that the Reds are right and that violence and revolution are the only available means at their command." Democratic Governor Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

 denounced the expulsions: "To discard the method of representative government leads to the misdeeds of the very extremists we denounce and serves to increase the number of enemies of orderly free government." Hughes also led a group of leading New York attorneys in a protest that said: "We have passed beyond the stage in political development when heresy-hunting is a permitted sport."

Film

America's film industry reflected and exploited every aspect of the public's fascination with and fear of Bolshevism. The German Curse in Russia dramatized the German instigation of Russia's October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

. The Soviet nationalization of women was central to the plot of The New Moon, in which women between the ages of 23 and 32 are the property of the state and the heroine is a Russian princess posing as a peasant during the Russian Revolution. Similarly, in The World and Its Woman starring Geraldine Farrar
Geraldine Farrar
Geraldine Farrar was an American soprano opera singer and film actress, noted for her beauty, acting ability, and "the intimate timbre of her voice." She had a large following among young women, who were nicknamed "Gerry-flappers".- Early life and opera career :Farrar was born in Melrose,...

, the daughter of an American engineer working in Russia becomes an opera star and has to fend off attempts to "nationalize" her.

Several films used labor troubles as their setting, with an idealistic American hero and heroine struggling to outwit manipulative left-wing agitators. Dangerous Hours
Dangerous Hours
Dangerous Hours is a 1919 silent drama film directed by Fred Niblo. Prints of the film survive in the UCLA Film and Television Archive. It premiered in February 1920.The film was based on a short story published in the Saturday Evening Post...

tells the story of an attempted Russian infiltration of American industry. College graduate John King is sympathetic to the left in a general way. Then he is seduced, both romantically and politically, by Sophia Guerni, a female agitator. Her superior is the Bolshevik Boris Blotchi, who has a "wild dream of planting the scarlet seed of terrorism in American soil." Sofia and Boris turn their attention to the Weston shipyards that are managed by John's childhood sweetheart, May. The workers have valid grievances, but the Bolsheviks set out to manipulate the situation. They are "the dangerous element following in the wake of labor as riffraff and ghouls follow an army." When they threaten May, John has an epiphany and renounces revolutionary doctrine.

A reviewer in Picture Play protested the film's stew of radical beliefs and strategies: "Please, oh please, look up the meaning of the words 'bolshevik' and 'soviet.' Neither of them mean [sic] 'anarchist,' 'scoundrel' or 'murderer' – really they don't!"

Some films just used Bolsheviks for comic relief, where they are easily seduced (The Perfect Woman) or easily inebriated (Help Yourself). In Bullin the Bullsehviks an American named Lotta Nerve outwits Trotsky. New York State Senator Clayton R. Lusk
Clayton R. Lusk
Clayton Riley Lusk was an American lawyer and politician from New York. He is now mostly remembered as Chairman of the "Lusk Committee", and was Acting Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1922....

 spoke at the film's New York premiere in October 1919. Other films used one feature or another of radical philosophy as the key plot point: anarchist violence (The Burning Question), assassination and devotion to the red flag (The Volcano), utopian vision (Bolshevism on Trial
Bolshevism on Trial
Bolshevism on Trial is a 1919 American motion picture drama made by the Mayflower Photoplay Company and distributed through Lewis J. Selznick's Select Pictures Corporation....

).

The advertising for Bolshevism on Trial called it "the timeliest picture ever filmed" and reviews were good. "Powerful, well-knit with indubitably true and biting satire," said Photoplay
Photoplay
Photoplay was one of the first American film fan magazines. It was founded in 1911 in Chicago, the same year that J. Stuart Blackton founded a similar magazine entitled Motion Picture Story...

. As a promotion device, the April 15, 1919, issue of Moving Picture World suggested staging a mock radical demonstration by hanging red flags around town and then have actors in military uniforms storm in to tear them down. The promoter was then to distribute handbills to the confused and curious crowds to reassure them that Bolshevism on Trial takes a stand against Bolshevism and "you will not only clean up but will profit by future business." When this publicity technique came to the attention of U.S. Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson
William Bauchop Wilson
William Bauchop Wilson was a American labor leader and politician. He is best remembered for his service as the first Secretary of Labor between 1913 and 1921 under President Woodrow Wilson.-Early life:...

, he expressed his dismay to the press: "This publication proposes by deceptive methods of advertising to stir every community in the United States into riotous demonstrations for the purpose of making profits for the moving picture business ..." He hoped to ban movies treating Bolshevism and Socialism.

Legislation

In 1919 Kansas enacted a law titled "An act relating to the flag, standard or banner of Bolshevism, anarchy or radical socialism" in an attempt to punish the display of the most common symbol of radicalism, the red flag. Only Massachusetts (1913) and Rhode Island (1914) passed such "red flag laws" earlier. By 1920 they were joined by 24 more states. Some banned certain colors (red or black), or certain expressions ("indicating disloyalty or belief in anarchy" or "antagonistic to the existing government of the United States"), or certain contexts ("to overthrow the government by general strike"), or insignia ("flag or emblem or sign"). The Yale Law Journal mocked the Connecticut law against symbols "calculated to ... incite people to disorder," anticipating its enforcement at the next Harvard-Yale football game. Ohio exempted college pennants and Wisconsin made an exception for historical museums. Minnesota allowed red flags for railroad and highway warnings. Setting patriotic standards, red flag laws regulated the proper display of the American flag: above all other flags, ahead of all other banners in any parade, or flown only in association with state flags or the flags of friendly nations. Punishment generally included fines from $1,000 to $5,000 and prison terms of 5 to 10 years, occasionally more.

At the federal level, the Espionage Act of 1917
Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

 and the amendments to it in the Sedition Act of 1918
Sedition Act of 1918
The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds...

 prohibited interference with the war effort, including many expressions of opinion. With that legislation rendered inoperative by the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer
Alexander Mitchell Palmer was Attorney General of the United States from 1919 to 1921. He was nicknamed The Fighting Quaker and he directed the controversial Palmer Raids.-Congressional career:...

, supported by President Wilson, waged a public campaign in favor of a peacetime version of the Sedition Act without success. He sent a circular outlining his rationale to newspaper editors in January 1919, citing the dangerous foreign-language press and radical attempts to create unrest in African American communities. At one point Congress had more than 70 versions of proposed language and amendments for such a bill, but it took no action on the controversial proposal during the campaign year of 1920.

Palmer called for every state to enact its own version of the Sedition Act. Six states had laws of this sort before 1919 usually aimed at sabotage, but another 20 added them in 1919 and 1920. Usually called "anti-syndicalist laws," they varied in their language, but generally made it a crime to "destroy organized government" by one method or another, including "by the general cessation of industry," that is, through a general strike. Many cities had their own versions of these laws, including 20 in the state of Washington alone.

May Day 1920

Within Attorney General Palmer's Justice Department, the General Intelligence Division (GID) headed by J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

 had become a storehouse of information about radicals in America. It had infiltrated many organizations and, following the raids of November 1919 and January 1920, it had interrogated thousands of those arrested and read through boxes of publications and records seized. Though agents in the GID knew there was a gap between what the radicals promised in their rhetoric and what they were capable of accomplishing, they nevertheless told Palmer they had evidence of plans for an attempted overthrow of the U.S. government on May Day 1920.

With Palmer's backing, Hoover warned the nation to expect the worst: assassinations, bombings, and general strikes. Palmer issued his own warning on April 29, 1920, claiming to have a "list of marked men" and said domestic radicals were "in direct connection and unison" with European counterparts with disruptions planned for the same day there. Newspapers headlined his words: "Terror Reign by Radicals, says Palmer" and "Nation-wide Uprising on Saturday." Localities prepared their police forces and some states mobilized their militias. New York City's 11,000-man police force worked for 32 hours straight. Boston police mounted machine guns on automobiles and positioned them around the city.

The date came and went without incident. Newspaper reaction was almost uniform in its mockery of Palmer and his "hallucinations." Clarence Darrow
Clarence Darrow
Clarence Seward Darrow was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, best known for defending teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb in their trial for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks and defending John T...

 called it the "May Day scare." The Rocky Mountain News
Rocky Mountain News
The Rocky Mountain News was a daily newspaper published in Denver, Colorado, United States from April 23, 1859, until February 27, 2009. It was owned by the E. W. Scripps Company from 1926 until its closing. As of March 2006, the Monday-Friday circulation was 255,427...

asked the Attorney General to cease his alerts: "We can never get to work if we keep jumping sideways in fear of the bewiskered Bolshevik." The Boston American assessed the Attorney General on May 4:
Everybody is laughing at A. Mitchell Palmer’s May Day "revolution." The joke is certainly on A. Mitchell Palmer, but the matter is not wholly a joke. The spectacle of a Cabinet officer going around surrounded with armed guards because he is afraid of his own hand-made bogey is a sorry one, even though it appeals to the humor of Americans. Of course, the terrible "revolution" did not come off. Nobody with a grain of sense supposed that it would. Yet, in spite of universal laughter, the people are seriously disgusted with these official Red scares. They cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars spent in assembling soldiers and policemen and in paying wages and expenses to Mr. Palmer's agents. They help to frighten capital and demoralize business, and to make timid men and women jumpy and nervous.


Palmer's embarrassment buttressed Louis Freeland Post's position in opposition to the Palmer raids when he testified before a Congressional Committee on May 7–8.

Collapse

Once Palmer's warnings of a May Day attempt to overthrow the government proved false, the anti-Bolshevik hysteria wound down quickly. In testimony before Congress on May 7–8, Louis Freeland Post defended his release of hundreds seized in Palmer's raids so successfully that attempts to impeach or censure him ended. Later in the month, a dozen prominent lawyers including Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter
Felix Frankfurter was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.-Early life:Frankfurter was born into a Jewish family on November 15, 1882, in Vienna, Austria, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Europe. He was the third of six children of Leopold and Emma Frankfurter...

 and Roscoe Pound
Roscoe Pound
Nathan Roscoe Pound was a distinguished American legal scholar and educator. He was Dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936...

 endorsed a report that condemned Palmer's Justice Department for the "utterly illegal acts committed by those charged with the highest duty of enforcing the laws" including entrapment, police brutality, prolonged incommunicado detention, and violations of due process in court.

In June, Massachusetts Federal District Court
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts is the federal district court whose jurisdiction is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA. The first court session was held in Boston in 1789. The second term was held in Salem in 1790 and until 1813 court session locations...

 Judge George Anderson
George Weston Anderson
George Weston Anderson was a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.-Biography:...

 ordered the discharge of twenty more arrested aliens and effectively ended the possibility of additional raids. The conservative Christian Science Monitor found itself unable to support Palmer any longer, writing on June 25, 1920: "What appeared to be an excess of radicalism...was certainly met with...an excess of suppression." Leaders of industry voiced similar sentiments, including Charles M. Schwab
Charles M. Schwab
Charles Michael Schwab was an American steel magnate. Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second largest steel maker in the United States, and one of the most important heavy manufacturers in the world....

 of Bethlehem Steel
Bethlehem Steel
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation , based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was once the second-largest steel producer in the United States, after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based U.S. Steel. After a decline in the U.S...

, who thought Palmer’s activities created more radicals than they suppressed, and T. Coleman du Pont
T. Coleman du Pont
Thomas Coleman du Pont was an American engineer and politician, from Greenville, Delaware. He was President of the of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, and a member of the Republican Party who served parts of two terms as United States Senator from Delaware...

 who called the Justice Department's work evidence of "sheer Red hysteria."

At the Democratic National Convention in July, Palmer never had a chance at winning the nomination. Coolidge, famous for his opposition to the right of police to strike, won a place on the Republican ticket, but the party's nominee, and the eventual winner of the 1920 election, was the U.S. Senator from Ohio, Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

. He sounded a very different note in mid-August. An interviewer wrote that "his jaws fairly snapped" when he said that "too much has been said about Bolshevism in America. It is quite true that there are enemies of Government within our borders. However, I believe their number has been greatly magnified. The American workman is not a Bolshevik; neither is the American employer an autocrat."

When another anarchist bomb exploded on Wall Street in September 1920
Wall Street bombing
The Wall Street bombing occurred at 12:01 p.m. on Thursday, September 16, 1920, in the Financial District of New York City. The blast killed 38 and seriously injured 143...

, newspaper response was comparatively restrained. "More bombs may be exploded," wrote the New York Times, "Other lives may be taken. But these are only hazards of a war which...must be faced calmly." If anarchists sought to make people fearful, "By keeping cool and firm we begin their defeat."

See also

  • Centralia Massacre
    Centralia Massacre (Washington)
    The Centralia Massacre was a violent and bloody incident that occurred in Centralia, Washington on November 11, 1919, during a parade celebrating the first anniversary of Armistice Day...

  • Comintern
    Comintern
    The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

  • List of New York Legislature members expelled or censured
  • Lusk Committee
  • McCarthyism
    McCarthyism
    McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

  • Polar Bear Expedition
    Polar Bear Expedition
    The Polar Bear Expedition was a contingent of about 5,000 U.S...

     - American Intervention in the Russian Civil War
    Russian Civil War
    The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

  • Ten Days that Shook the World
    Ten Days that Shook the World
    Ten Days that Shook the World is a book by American journalist and socialist John Reed about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 which Reed experienced firsthand. Reed followed many of the prominent Bolshevik leaders, especially Grigory Zinoviev and Karl Radek, closely during his time in Russia...


Further reading


External links

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