100% Americanism


100 Percent Americanism

  • •The end of World War I brought great rejoicing but also many problems.
  • –An influenza epidemic from Europe had spread to the U.S., killing more than half a million Americans.
  • –Farms and factories that had prospered during war years closed down as demand for products fell.
  • –Returning soldiers had trouble finding work.
  • •The emotional turmoil had disturbing political effects, as wartime patriotism turned to hatred of Germans.
  • •These sentiments gave rise to a movement known as 100 Percent Americanism, which celebrated all things American while attacking all ideas, and people, it viewed as foreign or anti-American.

The Red Scare, Rise of the Bolsheviks

  • Americans worried about a new enemy.
  • The Bolsheviks, a revolutionary group led by Vladimir I. Lenin, gained control of Russia during World War I.
  • Five years later Russia became part of a new nation called the Soviet Union.
  • The Bolsheviks wanted  communism, a new social system without economic classes or private property.
  • Lenin believed all people should share equally in society’s wealth.
  • Soviets called for the overthrow of capitalism and predicted communism would inspire workers to rise up and crush it.

American Reaction

  • Many Americans were frightened by communism.
  • Americans embraced capitalism and feared a rise of the working class.
  • The picture of “the Hun,” a German symbol, Americans focused hatred on during WWI, was replaced by a new target: communists, known as Reds.
  • Communist parties formed in the U.S. after the war, some advocating violent overthrow of the government.
  • A Red Scare, or widespread fear of communism, gripped the nation.

Major Strikes, But Not Major Victories

  • •The year 1919 was one of the most explosive times in the history of the American labor movement.
  • •Some 4 million workers took part in over 3,000 strikes nationwide, and labor lost in nearly every case.
  • •A few strikes in 1919 hold a place in labor history.

–In Seattle, Washington, labor unrest at the shipyards spread across the city, igniting what became the nation’s first general strike, or one in which all industries take part.

  • •The conflict shut down the city yet failed.
  • •The strike discouraged industry in Seattle for years.

–In Boston, the police force went on strike to protest low wages and poor working conditions.

  • •The city descended into chaos, and Governor Calvin Coolidge called in the militia to end the strike, making him a national hero.

–The United Mine Workers had a “no strikes” pledge during the war, but a strike in 1919 won a large wage increase but not better hours.

–The steel industry also struck in 1919.


  • Nativism produced a 1920s revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
  • The Klan’s terror group had originally targeted African Americans in the South but began also to target Jews, Catholics, and radicals.
  • The Klan slogan of the 1920s was “Native white, Protestant supremacy.”

The Klan moved from the South into other parts of the country.






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