Themes and Issues in American History/4 1919-1945

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Themes and Issues in American History/4

October 13, 2006


President Wilson’s friend, George L. Record wrote him in early 1919 “that something would have to be done about economic democracy to meet this menace of Socialism.” This era became one of increasing paranoia about the effects of Socialism on society. Even as the Courts and Congress enforced suppression of certain ideas and acts, the class war in a supposedly class-less society was beginning to take shape. Strikes continued to plague the country and even with the jailing and suppression of union leadership, the Socialist support of the unions continued to attract more members and sympathy. The Seattle Strike of 1919 was seen as an attempt at revolution. It was defeated after five days by Federal troops who proceeded to trample on constitutional rights, by arresting and persecuting the Socialist and union leadership. In addition, printing plants were shut down and anti government propaganda destroyed. As revolutionary forces and sentiments gathered overseas, there was more and more pressure on the government to control the people or as James Madison stated in Federalist #10, the “violence of faction”. The government used various means of subversion in their attempts to break the morale and purpose of the strikers and Socialist. Conditions were put in place that resulted in many of the workers, and members of the party, to be deported back to their home countries as illegal or undesirable aliens. This petrified and demoralized many of the workers and membership, as the majority of the members were first generation immigrants. Racial hatreds were encouraged by promising jobs and positions to other non-union and politically unaffiliated newly arrived immigrants. Blacks were used as strikebreakers as they were denied union memberships and thus had no loyalties. By the mid-twenties, The IWW was destroyed and the Socialist party falling apart. The...
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