Red Scare: FBI and the Origins of Anticommunism in the United States, 1919-1943

Red Scare: FBI and the Origins of Anticommunism in the United States, 1919-1943

Regin Schmidt

Language: English

Pages: 391

ISBN: 8772895810

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The anticommunist crusade of the FBI and its legendary director J. Edgar Hoover during the McCarthy era and the Cold War has attracted much attention from historians, but little is known about the Bureau's political activities during its formative years. This book breaks new ground by tracing the roots of the FBI's political surveillance to the involvement of the Bureau's predecessor, the Bureau of Investigation (BI) in the nation's first period of communist-hunting, the "Red Scare" after World War I. The book is based on the first systematic and comprehensive use of the early BI files from 1908 to 1922, which have only survived on difficult-to-read microfilms deposited in the National Archives, as well as numerous collections of personal papers. The FBI's political surveillance was an integrated part of the attempt by the modern federal state, to regulate and control any organized opposition to the political, economic and social order, such as organized labor, radical movements and African-American protest. The detailed reconstruction of the BI's role in the Red Scare during 1919-1920 show that federal intelligence officials played a crucial role in initiating the anticommunist hysteria in the United States. Even though the staff was small, the BI was able to dramatically influence national events through various methods including using Congressional committees to spread its message.

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orientation now defined a basic part of the nation’s discourse. The values of continuity and regularity, functionality and rationality, administration and management set the form of problems and outlined their alternative solutions.”50 This general development toward organizational centralization affected the role of the federal government profoundly. While the progressive movement comprised a variety of different groups and interests, for example social reformers, muckrackers and urban and

(Wilmington, Delaware, 1993), xi-xii; AG Report 1924, 61. 80 AG Report 1921, 129; Appropriations, Department of Justice, 1923, 132-133, 137; Appropriations, Department of Justice, 1924, 80-83. Apparently, President Harding opposed the centralization on the grounds that it would entail “a very marked increase in expenses” (letter, Warren Harding to Harry M. Daugherty, November 28, 1921, File 10-b, Series 4, Warren G. Harding Papers, LC). 81 AG Reports 1924, 71-72; 1925, 122-123; J. Edgar Hoover,

1919-1943; e-book. 2004. ISBN 87 635 0012 4 Copyright © Museum Tusculanum Press Controlling the Aliens In 1882 the federal government entered the field of immigration control when Congress passed a law which excluded such groups as convicts, lunatics, idiots and persons likely to become public charges from entering, and the Immigration Act of 1891 formally placed immigration under federal authority. It established administrative procedures for the exclusion process, extended the denial of

campaign in order to safeguard its bureaucratic interests, to avoid the drastic cutbacks which seemed unavoidable after the war, and perhaps to establish a more permanent position in the field of internal security. This much was indicated in 1921 by the lawyer Jackson Ralston during a Senate committee hearing on the activities of the Justice Department 9 Williams, “Without Understanding,” 51; in general 49-53. Finch added that “There was need that every person be on his guard, because no one

Allen to Overman, June 12, 1919, OG 363726, ibid. 68 Letters, anonymous to Overman, June 5, 1919; Overman to Chief, Division of Investigation, June 6, 1919; W. H. Allen to Overman, June 11, 1919, OG 115940, ibid. 69 Letters, Knute Nelson to A. Mitchell Palmer, June 20, 1919; Palmer to Nelson, June 25, 1919; Geo. W. Lillard to W. E. Allen, June 19, 1919; Allen to Wm. M. Offley, June 25, 1919, OG 82811, ibid. Regin Schmidt: Red Scare. FBI and the origins of Anticommunism141 in the United States,

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