Communism/ The Red Scare term paper 13495

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The Red Scare took place twice in American History. First in the period of 1919 to 1921

which was triggered by a Communist take over of Russia. The Red scare never really stopped

since it's first appearance, but occurred again in the 1950's. It was a label given to the actions of

legislation, race riots, and the hatred and persecution of revolutionary objectors during that

period of time.

After the war formally ended on November 18, 1918, there was an ideological war still

going on in the US. It was a war which prompted mass paranoia and caused what would be

known as the Red Scare, beginning in 1919 and ending in 1921. First period of red scare began

in June 1919, when the newly appointed US attorney general, A. Mitchel Palmer, was waken up

by the explosion on his door steps. A bomber tripped over something, blowing himself up. It was

later found that additional bombs had exploded on the doorsteps of other high-ranking

government officials in at least 8 more cities. This was the start of the first Red Scare throughout

the country. The next day's New York Times newspaper reported that the attack was Bolshevik or

W.W.I origin.

After all the unfair legislation passed by the government, the scene was set for a disaster.

Palmer used the laws set down in 1917 to deport members of the WWI. When the Palmer Raids

began, its two main targets were the Communist Party, and the Communist Labor Party. In 1918,

after the end of the war, all the groups which opposed the war came under fire. They were seen

as destructive to the peace and security of the American nation. The focus of the attacks was no

longer on the conscientious objectors, since many of them had already been jailed during the

war, and were still in jail at the time. It was now switched over to the Socialists; they were still a

viable target.

Another reason for the Red Scare was the strike held by mine workers. They were

thought to be making threatening moves against the Capitalist system through subversive

Socialist organizations. These strikes were part of a series of events taking place in 1919. This

strike, which occurred in February, consisted of 60,000 coal mine workers. In that September,

steel workers were on strike. All of the available blame was put upon the American

Communists, although many communists tried to oppose this strike. Nationalist Americans

called for a halt to this "Bolshevik Revolution" which was taking place on American soil. As a

result of this panic traveling through American society, a series of bombings occurred. The

Socialists were immediately assumed to be responsible. Newspapers had a field day publicizing

these bombings. Attorney General Palmer took advantage of the widespread panic of the public

and media and asked Congress for fund appropriations to help avoid further danger. Congress

obliged, not only supplying funds, but going one step further. The message was then made clear:

foreign radicals were to all be deported.

The Red Scare finally came to an end after a series of actions by high government

officials, especially in the Justice Department itself, which showed dissent from Palmer's

philosophy. Assistant Secretary of Labor Louis F. Post began to reject most of the cases brought

before him concerning the immigrants. Even the Secretary of Labor himself, William B. Wilson

turned against Palmer. Out of 6,000 warrants issued during the raids, less than 1,000

deportations resulted. Even with all this opposition to his actions, Palmer still aspired to the

office of the Presidency. He was never nominated. By 1920, the Red Scare was dying down, and

by 1921 it was virtually dead.

It would have been much easier to overthrow the government or get a lot of support for

Communist ideas during the first Red Scare rather then in the 1950's. After WWI was over, many

people were coming home and there was a tremendous rise in unemployment. Industries that

were working for the war had to change their products to meet piece time demands, which

costed a lot of money. On the other hand, in the 50's, the economy started to improve and people

finally gained some hope for a bright future. The Marshal plan, providing economical aid to any

state which suffered from fascism, brought American goods into the world market. Big labor

unions were also around, such as the Knights of Labor and the AFL, which wanted better

working conditions, higher wages and a smaller work day. Also, no legislation regarding

communism was passed by congress at that time, so workers in Unions were legally allowed to

be Communists. The first restriction on people entering the Unions was passed in 1947 by

Congress, called the Taft-Hartley Act. One provision stated that a worker must swear that he is

not, and was not a communist, before entering a Union.

Word Count: 814

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