Presenter Information

Jonathan DunningFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

US History and Public Relations

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

A consensus has developed among historians that in the early months of 1919, widespread panic consumed the American public and government as many came to fear a Bolshevik coup of the United States government and the undermining of the American way of life, and this fear persisted until 1920. Known as the First Red Scare, this period became one of the most well-known episodes of American fear of Communism in US history. With this focus on the events of 1919 to 1920, however, historians of the First Red Scare have often ignored the initial American reaction to the October Revolution in late 1917 and throughout 1918. A study of this earlier period demonstrates that American fear and hatred of Bolshevism emerged immediately after the Bolshevik uprising in Russia. For over a year prior to 1919, the American press, American authorities, and American leaders claimed the American Bolsheviki plotted to seize control of the US. While fear of Bolshevism in American society during the period of 1917 to 1918 did not become as widespread as it did from 1919 to 1920, a study of these early years aids historical understanding of how the First Red Scare developed in American society and challenges widely accepted notions of when the First Red Scare began.

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American Bolsheviki: The Beginnings of the First Red Scare, 1917 to 1918

A consensus has developed among historians that in the early months of 1919, widespread panic consumed the American public and government as many came to fear a Bolshevik coup of the United States government and the undermining of the American way of life, and this fear persisted until 1920. Known as the First Red Scare, this period became one of the most well-known episodes of American fear of Communism in US history. With this focus on the events of 1919 to 1920, however, historians of the First Red Scare have often ignored the initial American reaction to the October Revolution in late 1917 and throughout 1918. A study of this earlier period demonstrates that American fear and hatred of Bolshevism emerged immediately after the Bolshevik uprising in Russia. For over a year prior to 1919, the American press, American authorities, and American leaders claimed the American Bolsheviki plotted to seize control of the US. While fear of Bolshevism in American society during the period of 1917 to 1918 did not become as widespread as it did from 1919 to 1920, a study of these early years aids historical understanding of how the First Red Scare developed in American society and challenges widely accepted notions of when the First Red Scare began.

 

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