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Fear of Communism in The United States

The 1920's

1920’s United States of America is famous for its technology, business, music, and sports but groups like the KKK dominated the south and those whose beliefs did not fit in to a particular groups beliefs were faced with heavy law. Those who were believed to support un-American political beliefs, such as communism or anarchy, became suspects for all sorts of crimes. This came to be known as the “Red-Scare”, which referred to the heavy fear of communism in the United States of America during the 1920’s. It is believed that there were over 150,000 anarchists or communist in the United States of America in 1920 which only represented about .1% of the overall population. Despite the communists being a minority, Americans were scared of them. Especially due to the fact that they had overthrown the Russian royal family in 1917 and murdered them the following year. There was also the lingering memory of President McKinley being shot dead by an anarchist. The fear of communism also spread with an increasing amount of strikes across the country.. The American people were starting to view any movement that seemed anti-work to mean communist. Two major strikes took place in the year of 1919. The Boston police went on strike, a situation that was handled well by future president Calvin Coolidge. And 100,000’s of steel and coal workers went on strike as well. The communists were blamed for both of these strikes. A series of terrorist bomb explosions in 1919, including a failed attempt to blow up the United States Attorney-General, led to an increased campaign against communism. On New Year’s Day, 1920, over 6000 suspects were arrested and put into prison. Many were released and deemed innocent after a few weeks. The fear of communism was so great that very few people outside of those arrested complained about these arrests. Many considered the threat to America’s national security to be a sufficient need for such harsh measures. Despite this, many complained about the arrest of Nicola Sacco and Bartolommeo Vanzetti. They were arrested in May 1920 and charged with a payroll robbery in which two guards were killed. Both men were from Italy and spoke little English. Both were known to be anarchists and both were found carrying loaded guns when they were arrested. They were tried by Judge Thayer who was known to hate communist supporters. Sixty-one witnesses claimed that they saw both men at the robbery and murders. However, one-hundred seven people claimed to have seen both men elsewhere when the crime was committed. Regardless, both of the men were found guilty. They spent seven years in prison while their lawyers appealed in vain. Despite public protests and petitions, both men were executed by electric chair on August 24th, 1927. Harsh measures such as these are continually held in controversy. It is a continual argument whether the “ends justify the means”. While the threat of communism was an underwhelming one in the United States, opposition to it was increasingly overwhelming. It was getting to the point where people may have been accused of crimes they were innocent of simply for believing in communist ideas.

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/americas-fear-of-communism-in-1920-becomes-a-threat-to-rights-111561904/116001.html

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/saccov/redscare.html

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History American History Communism


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