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bell ringer

Often when a person is faced with something they feel threatened by they react with fear or aggression. Think about a time when you felt like you were being attacked mentally or physically and you reacted with fear or aggression. Take a minute write down what happened, how you felt, and how you reacted. Following WWI, the people and government of the United States faced new developments in the world that caused them to react with fear and aggression.

Bell Ringer

Warren G. Harding "Return to Normalcy,"

Boston, MA, May 14, 1920

My best judgment of America's needs is to steady down, to get squarely on our feet, to make sure of the right path. Let's get out of the fevered delirium of war,. . . . Let us stop to consider that tranquility at home is more precious than peace abroad, and that both our good fortune and our eminence are dependent on the normal forward stride of all the American people. ...

return to normalcy

Could the nation return to what life was before the United States’ involvement in WWI?

Let’s take a look at the United States in 1919 …

Return to Normalcy?
foreign policy

“My Fellow Countrymen: the armistice was signed this morning…. It will now be our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sobering friendly counsel, and by material aid in the establishment of just democracy throughout the world.”

We would not have our politics distracted and embittered by the dissensions of other lands. We would not have our country’s vigor exhausted, or her moral force abated, by everlasting meddling and muddling in every quarrel which afflicts the world.”

Foreign Policy

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. (R-MA)


Returning soldiers faced unemployment or took their old jobs away from women and minorities.

Nothing is too good for you, my boy! What would you like?

A job.

fear of communism

“The nation went on thinking with a mind of a people at war. They had learned during the preceding nineteen months to strike down the thing they hated; not to argue or hesitate, but to strike. Germany had been struck down, but it seemed that there was another danger on the horizon. Bolshevism was spreading from Russia through Europe; Bolshevism might spread to the United States. They struck at it – or at what they thought was it.”

- Frederick Lewis Allen

Only Yesterday

Fear of Communism
the red scare

Where does it come from?

    • 1919 revolutionaries led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the monarchical czar government
    • Established a communist state
    • Waved a symbolic red flag – a.k.a. “Reds”
    • Cried out for worldwide revolution that would abolish capitalism everywhere
The Red Scare
the red scare1

Where did it show up here?

    • Communist Party forms
    • Some members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Union joined the Communist Party
The Red Scare
the red scare2

A Series of bombs being sent to government and business leaders increased fears of the spread of communism.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s residence was bombed

The Red Scare
palmer raids

Attorney General Palmer appointed J. Edgar Hoover as special assistant

Hunted down suspected Communists, socialists, anarchists

Palmer Raids
fear of outsiders

Nativism – Favoring the interests of native-born people over foreign-born people

    • Need for unskilled labor decreased
    • 1919-1921 immigration increased from 141,000 to 805,000 (600%)
Fear of Outsiders
limiting immigration

Quota System – maximum number of people who could enter the US from each country

    • Limited immigration to 2% of a country’s nationals living in the US in 1890.
      • Discriminated against Eastern and Southern European countries
      • Prohibited Japanese immigration
Limiting Immigration
return of the klan

“100 percent Americanism”

Discriminated against blacks, Jews, Roman-Catholics, immigrants, Communists, unions, saloons

4.5 Million members

Return of the Klan
fear of labor

During WWI the government did not allow strikes and unions promised to adhere to this policy in support of our nation at war.

  • Following WWI –
    • Management wanted a return to laissez-faire
    • Workers pressed for higher wages, etc.
Fear of Labor
plots to establish communism or fighting for your rights
“Plots to Establish Communism” or Fighting for Your Rights
  • Boston Police Strike
    • Demanded higher wages
    • Leaders fired; Officers strike
    • Governor Calvin Coolidge brings in National Guard to end strike
    • Striking police replaced
  • U.S. Steel Mill Strike
    • Demanded higher wages and shorter work hours
    • Managements refused to negotiate
    • 300,000 workers on strike
    • Management used propaganda to paint strikers as Communists
    • Public report displayed poor conditions – workers got 8-hour work day, but no Union

Coal Miner’s Strike

    • Led by John L. Lewis demanding better wages and shorter workdays
    • Disobeyed court order to stop strike
    • President Wilson appointed an arbitrator
    • Coal Miners received wage increase
labor loses appeal

Much of the workforce were immigrants willing to work in poor conditions

Immigrants spoke many different languages making it difficult to organize

Migrating farmers used to hard work

Most unions excluded African Americans

Connected publicly to Communists

Labor Loses Appeal
sacco vanzetti

Italian immigrants and anarchists tried for the robbery and murder of a factory paymaster in South Braintree (Boston)

Sacco & Vanzetti

Why did Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launch a series of raids against suspected Communists?

He believed Communists wanted to overthrow the government and ruin our economy. He also may have hoped to ride the wave of public support all the way to the White House.


Communism – Economic and Political system based on a single-party led by a dictatorship

Bolshevism – Majority, Worker – Name attributed to the communist revolution in that it was a “worker’s revolution.”

Arbitrator - a person chosen to decide a dispute or settle differences

Anarchist – one who believes in no established government