The Red Scare

Kortney Kirking

Red Scare 1919-1920

The Red Scare started because of a fear of Bolshevism. The Bolsheviks were the communist party that were mainly workers under a democratic goverened principle. The Bolsheviks came to power in 1917 in Russia. They considered themselves to be the revolutionary working class of Russia.

When the labor movement started in the United States to have organized unions to help increase workers' rights and pay, the press and many Americans saw it as an anti-American movement. They thought it was influenced by the communist party of the Bolsheviks.

American Labor Movement

People were afraid of the American labor movement because of the Bolshevik party. There were many labor events that sparked the scare. One was the Seattle General Strike in 1919 where workers were striking because they were dissatisfied with their wage freezes during WWI and wanted higher wages. The press and the public called this the work of the Bolsheviks. Another event was the Boston Police Strike of 1919. They were striking for improvements in their wages and working conditions. Again, the press and public saw this as the work of the communist Bolsheviks and were considered anti-American.

In addition to these labor strikes, there was a group of people led by Luigi Galleani who wanted to overthrow existing government. He mailed 36 booby trapped bombs to politicians, justice officials, newspaper officials, and business men. This led to more of the Red Scare because people thought again that this was the work of the Bolsheviks.

Other Events of the Red Scare and the Fizzle

Several more events related to the Red Scare happened such as Race Riots where it was believed that the African Americans were communist. There was a Steel Strike as well as a Coal Strike which continued to scare the Americans. In November of 1919, Palmer had raids against those he thought were communists. This lead to 249 deportations back to the Soviet in December of 1919. In January of 1920 Assembly Speaker, Sweet, said the five Socialist members were not in America's best interest and in April of 1920, Palmer warned the people to expect the worst on May Day. He warned of bombings, strikes, and assassinations by the communists.

Once May Day came and went without the disaster, people realized it had been an exageration and that the American worker is not a communist.

Time Line of Events of the Red Scare

  • January 21, 1919 Seattle General Strike
  • April 1919 mail bombs
  • June 1919 bombs (eight bombs, larger than those mailed in April, exploded almost in several U.S. cities)
  • Summer 1919 Race riots
  • September 1919 Boston Police Strike
  • September 1919 Steel Strike
  • November 1919 Coal Strike
  • November 1919 Palmer Raids
  • December 21 Deportations
  • January 7, 1920 Expulsion of Socialists from the New York Assembly
  • May Day scare 1920
  • Collapse

Work Cited