December 2, 1949 - The Red Scare

Red Scare and the Cold War

            In 1917, Russia was faced with a revolution run by the Bolsheviks. This revolution promoted the ideas of communism and anarchy. Following World War 1, many Americans were left without a job from having to serve in the war. As well, America faced numerous economic difficulties in their post-war state. Many citizens were not seeing the change they needed to get back on their feet, and were subsequently inspired by what the Bolsheviks did in Russia.

In 1919 the Red Scare began with anarchist bombings that were aimed at government officials. The members of the movement wanted to get their point across and prove the magnitude of the situation. Following this, the first strike, was The Seattle Shipyard strike. In this, 60,000 shipyard workers walked away from their jobs. As a result, they were labeled as “reds.” Many government officials began to treat (for the most part) harmless strikes like this as a crime against humanity, or a conspiracy to establish communism. Every strike during this time, related to communism or not, was a labeled as these terms and seen as an offense against the government.

Riots continued, especially in major cities such as New York City, Boston, and Cleveland. Even some Boston police went on strike on September 9th. Following this, one of the largest nationwide strikes occurred on September 22 in which 365,000 steel workers abandoned their jobs. These strikes instilled major fear within American citizens and even created a sense of paranoia. In fact, it became very popular to “hunt for reds,” meaning people would search for “reds” to turn into the government.

Nearing the end of the revolution, the General Intelligence of Bureau of Investigation was created to look for possible Bolshevik conspiracies. As a result of this, thousands of people were imprisoned or even deported for the smallest support towards communism.  In contrast to this, the American Legion was formed to maintain peace and follow the ideals of the United States as written in the Constitution. The reign of the Red Scare was short and by Spring of 1920 things started to ease back into how they were.

By Peyton Behling

Burnett, Paul. “The Red Scare.” UMKC School of Law,
projects/ftrials/SaccoV/redscare.html. Accessed 20 May 2020., editor. “Red Scare: Cold War, McCarthyism & Facts.” History, 1 June