The Red Scare of 1919

By Michael Cramer & Todd Jordan

The Red Scare

The Red Scare was the period after World War I where Americans were afraid of Russians, who had just recently converted to Communism. Because of this, Americans thought that USA would be invaded by Communism as well, as there was many threats for Russian invasion, as they wanted to destroy all forms of capitalism. This included docks in Seattle being idled from a strike, race riots, and a police strike in Boston. All of this caused a fear of radicalism (which means they were afraid of America becoming Communist). Because of this, more and more people began becoming paranoid of immigrants and their ideas, especially Russians/Eastern Europeans. Because of this, people (specifically Palmer and Hoover) started arresting individuals (and even groups) with different views - and deported a handful of them.

President Wilson and A. Mitchell Palmer

As President Wilson pushed to get his version of world peace passed, this involved getting rid of communism, many violent events took place. These included police strikes, race riots, worker strikes and an employee of a Washington company being hanged. Resulting some of these events, Wilson appointed A. Mitchell Palmer attorney general. Shortly after, bombs had been mailed to politicians around the country. They were discovered in time but an Italian Anarchist blew one up outside the residents of Palmer. He then became convinced that an act of radicalism was taking place.

Communist Revolution and The Red Threat

After the success of the communist movement in Russia, the parties encouraged revolutions in other countries, including the US. After the Great War, it had been spread around America that Communism was very bad and that it would ruin the American way of life. Couple that with the news of the communism spreading throughout the East of Asia. This scared the US citizens because they didn't want to get rid of their system of life and leisure. Some raids were conducted, led by A Mitchell Palmer and J Edgar Hoover, to catch suspected Communist or Anarchist agents and have them deported. This made a name for Hoover and he later became leader of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The Sacco & Vanzetti Case

In Massachusetts, 1920, two men broke into a shoe factory stealing merchandise and killing a guard in the process. The two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were convicted for the crimes and sentenced to death in July of 1921. The case was not exact though. There were no witnesses, neither man had a criminal record. The only noticeable information was that both were anarchists and Sacco owned a pistol that was similar to the murder weapon used to kill the guard. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in 1927, still pleading that they were innocent of the charges. This case brought out the feelings that America disliked foreigners and radicals.

Notable Words

Capitalism is an economic system in which investment of private companies are allowed and exchange of wealth is made by private owners/corporations.

Anarchism is a system of government where there is no government; individuals are free to do what they want.

Some Important People

Slides Done By

The Red Scare: Todd Jordan

President Wilson and A. Mitchell Palmer: Michael Cramer

Communist Revolution and The Red Threat: Michael Cramer

The Sacco & Vanzetti Case: Michael Cramer

Notable Words: Todd Jordan

Important People: Michael Cramer

Image Sources: Michael Cramer