The Red Scare

The Rise of the Bolshevik Party | Bolshevik Revolution | How did this Effect America | Historical Significance | Bibliography


Red, what does it make you think of? People often think of fear, but in the 1920's they where thinking of a change in life as they knew it. The Red Scare was a time in history when communist and anarchist were the big fear. Russia had been through a revolution and the fear spread to America. In the 1920's the only fear was Americas having there own revolution.

The Rise of the Bolshevik Party

The Provisional government was opposed right away by the soviets, or councils of workers and peasants, who wanted the right to make their own decisions. When V. I. Lenin arrived from exile in the spring of 1917, he joined the Bolshevik Party in Russia whose goal was to overthrow the Provisional government and set up a government for the proletariat(class of wage earners)[1]

Bolshevik Revolution

Leon Trotsky now urged the overthrow of the Provisional Government. Lenin agreed and on the evening of 24th October, 1917, orders were given for the Bolsheviks began to occupy the railway stations, the telephone exchange and the State Bank. The following day the Red Guards surrounded the Winter Palace. Inside was most of the country's Cabinet, although Kerensky had managed to escape from the city.
The Winter Palace was defended by Cossacks, some junior army officers and the Woman's Battalion. At 9 p.m. the Aurora and the Peter and Paul Fortress began to open fire on the palace. Little damage was done but the action persuaded most of those defending the building to surrender. The Red Guards, led by Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, now entered the Winter Palace and arrested the Cabinet ministers.
On 26th October, 1917, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets met and handed over power to the Soviet Council of People's Commissars. Vladimir Lenin was elected chairman and other appointments included Leon Trotsky (Foreign Affairs) Alexei Rykov (Internal Affairs), Anatoli Lunacharsky (Education), Alexandra Kollontai (Social Welfare), Felix Dzerzhinsky (Internal Affairs), Joseph Stalin (Nationalities), Peter Stuchka (Justice) and Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko (War)[2].By early November, there was little doubt that the proletariats backed the Bolshevik motto: "All power to the soviets!"[1]

How did this Effect America

They created the Red Scare and immigration policy. In the first few years after World War I, the country experienced a brief period of antiradical hysteria known as the Red Scare. Widespread labor unrest in 1919, combined with a wave of bombings, the Communists in power in Russia, and the short-lived Communist revolt in Hungary, fed the fear that the United States was also on the verge of revolution. Under the direction of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, thousands of suspected radicals were arrested in 1919 and 1920; those that were aliens were deported. Although the Red Scare faded quickly after 1920, it strengthened the widespread belief in a strong connection between foreigners and radicalism.[3]

Historical Significance

The Red Scare played a big part of history for America and Russia in the 1920's. This was a time of fear and caution. America was scared to end up like Russia with an overthrown government. The 1920's would have been very different, many people would have lived, many would have not been falsely accused as communist.


[1]Bunyan, James and H. H. Fisher. The Bolshevik Revolution. access on February 4, 2012,
[2]Simkin, John (BA, MA, MPhil)
[3] Change and Reaction in the 1920s. 4 Feb 2012,articleId-25202.html