The Full Wiki

Red Scare: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

In United States history, the term Red Scare denotes two distinct periods of strong anti-communism: the First Red Scare, from 1917 to 1920, and the Second Red Scare, from 1947 to 1957. The Scares were characterized by the fear that communism would upset the capitalist social order in the United Statesmarker; the First Red Scare was about worker revolution and political radicalism. The Second Red Scare was focused on (national and foreign) communists infiltrating the federal government.

First Red Scare (1917–20)

The First Red Scare began after the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917 and during the First World War (1914–18). Anarchist and left-wing political violence and social agitation aggravated extant national social and political tensions. Historian L.B. Murray reports that the “Red Scare” was “a nation-wide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent — a revolution that would destroy [private] property, Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life.” Newspapers exacerbated those political fears into xenophobia — because varieties of radical anarchism were perceived as answers to popular poverty; the advocates often were recent European immigrants exercising freedom of speech protected under US law, (cf. hyphenated-Americans). Moreover, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) effected several labor strikes in 1916 and 1917 that the press portrayed as radical threats to American society inspired by left-wing, foreign agents provocateur; thus, the press misrepresented legitimate labour strikes as “Crimes against society”, “Conspiracies against the government”, and “Plots to establish Communism”.

In April 1919, police authorities discovered a plot for mailing thirty six bombs to prominent members of the US political and economic Establishment: J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Supreme Courtmarker Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, US Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, and immigration officials. On 2 June 1919, in eight cities, eight bombs simultaneously exploded at the same hour. One target was the Washington, D.C., house of US Attorney General Palmer, where the explosion killed the bomber, whom evidence indicated was an Italian-American radical from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, Palmer ordered the US Justice Department to launch the Palmer Raids (1919–21) — executed by J. Edgar Hoover, who instructed that said political prisoners be forcefully interrogated without legal counsel, and that they remain imprisoned via prohibitively-high bail.

Yet, in 1918, before the bombings, President Wilson had pressured the Congress to legislate the anti-immigrant, anti-anarchist Sedition Act of 1918 to protect wartime morale by deporting putatively undesirable political people. Law professor David D. Cole reports that President Wilson’s “. . . federal government consistently targeted alien radicals, deporting them . . . for their speech or associations, making little effort to distinguish true threats from ideological dissidents.”

Initially, the press praised the raids; the Washington Post said, “There is no time to waste on hairsplitting over [the] infringement of liberty”, and The New York Times said the injuries inflicted upon the arrested were “souvenirs of the new attitude of aggressiveness which had been assumed by the Federal agents against Reds and suspected-Reds.” In the event, the Palmer Raids were criticised as being unconstitutionally illegal by twelve publicly-prominent lawyers, including (future Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter, who published A Report on the Illegal Practices of The United States Department of Justice, documenting systematic violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the US Constitution via Palmer-authorised “illegal acts” and “wanton violence”. Defensively, Palmer then warned that a government-deposing left-wing revolution would begin on 1 May 1920 — May Day, the International Workers’ Day. When it failed to happen, he was ridiculed and lost much credibility. Strengthening the legal criticism of Palmer was that fewer than 600 deportations were substantiated with evidence, out of the thousands of resident aliens illegally arrested and deported. In July 1920, Palmer’s promising Democratic Party bid for the US presidency failed.

Consequent to the newspaper-induced xenophobia and police suppression characteristic of the First Red Scare, liberal and left-wing organizations, such as the Industrial Workers of the World, the Communist Party of the United States, and the like, lost many members. In 1919–20, several states legislated “criminal syndicalism” laws out-lawing advocacy of violence in effecting and securing social change; the restrictions included free speech limitations.

Passage of these laws, in turn, provoked over-aggressive police investigation of the accused persons, their jailing, and deportation for being suspected of being either communist or left-wingRegardless of ideologic gradation, the Red Scare didn't distinguish among communist, socialist, or Social Democrat — because all were "foreign" (European) "ideologies", thus, "un-American".

Second Red Scare (1947–57)

The Second Red Scare occurred after the Second World War (1939–45), coinciding with increased popular fear of communist espionage consequent to a Sovietmarker Eastern Europe, the Berlin Blockade (1948–49), the Chinese Civil War, and the Korean War. The fear was provoked with red-baiting and blacklisting.

Internal causes of anti-communist fear

The events of the late 1940s — the NKVD’s atomic bomb spy-ring of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the Iron Curtain (1945–91) around Eastern Europe, and the USSRmarker’s nuclear weapon — surprised the US public, influencing popular opinion about US national security, that, in turn, connected to fear of the Soviet Union atomic-bombing the US, and fear of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA). In Canada, the 1946 Kellock-Taschereau Commission investigated espionage after top secret documents concerning RDX, radar and other weapons were handed over to the Soviets by a domestic spy-ring. At the House Un-American Activities Committee, former CPUSA members and NKVD spies, Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers testified that Soviet spies and communist sympathizers had penetrated the US government before, during, and after the Second World War. In 1949, anti–communist fear was aggravated by the Chinese Communists winning the Chinese Civil War against the Western-sponsored Kuomintang, their founding of the People's Republic of Chinamarker, and later Chinese intervention in the Korean War (1950–53) against US client state South Koreamarker.


By the 1930s, communism had become an attractive economic ideology among many people in the US, especially among the educated, the intelligentsia, and labor leaders. At its zenith in 1939, the CPUSA had some 50,000 members. In 1940, soon after the Second World War began in Europe, the US Congress legislated the Alien Registration Act (aka the Smith Act, 18 USC §2385) making it a crime to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association — and required Federal registration of all foreign nationals. Although principally deployed against communists, the Smith Act was also used against right-wing political threats such as the German-American Bund, and the perceived racial disloyalty of the Japanese-American population, (cf. hyphenated-Americans).

In 1941, after Nazi Germany’s invaded the USSR, the CPUSA’s official posture became pro-war; it opposed labor strikes detrimental to the war effort, and supported militarily aggressive US policies. With the slogan Communism is Twentieth-Century Americanism, the chairman, Earl Browder, advertised the CPUSA’s integration to the political mainstream. In contrast, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party opposed US participation in the war and supported labor strikes, even in war-effort industry. For this reason James P. Cannon and other SWP leaders were convicted per the Smith Act.

In March 1947, President Harry S Truman signed Executive Order 9835, creating the “Federal Employees Loyalty Program” establishing political-loyalty review boards who determined the “Americanism” of Federal Government employees, and recommended termination of those suspected of being Un-American. The House Committee on Un-American Activities and the committees of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R., Wisc.) conducted said character investigations of “American communists” (actual and alleged), and their roles in (real and imaginary) espionage, propaganda, and subversion favoring the USSR — achieving little, besides launching the successful political careers of McCarthy and Richard Nixon.

The Second Red Scare profoundly altered the temper of US society. Its anti-intellectualism contributed to the popularity of anti-communist espionage (My Son John, 1950) and science fiction movies (The Thing From Another World, 1951) with stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of US society by un–American thought and inhuman beings. Even a baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, temporarily renamed themselves the “Cincinnati Redlegs” to avoid the money-losing and career-ruining connotations inherent to being ball-playing “Reds” (communists).

See also

References and notes


References and further reading

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address