Date of Creation
Prof. Erina Megowan
In my thesis, I connect anti-anarchist legislation from the early 1900s with the excesses of the 1919 Red Scare. I tie the actions of anarchist leaders Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman to legislative responses, which were then weaponized after the hysteria of the Russian Revolution culminating in the deportations of 249 Russian “radicals” on the Soviet Ark. I find that the Supreme Court’s legal interpretation of the 1903 Immigration Act’s anti-anarchist provision in Turner v. Williams (1904), and the 1902 Criminal Anarchy Act in Gitlow v. New York (1925) were rational—understandable—within their legal and social context.
My legal history bridges this gap from the intersection of respective immigration, radical, and free speech histories. Connecting anti-anarchism to the Red Hysteria and anti-communism, this thesis provides a dynamic look at how American society changed in its perception of immigrants, radicalism, and its connection to Europe from 1892 to 1920, adding to the complexity of the Red Hysteria. How Americans viewed the connection between anarchism and communism and how they defined anarchism changed significantly from 1892 to 1920. A broadened definition of anarchism, despite its effective narrowing in the United States to the movement of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, led to a door open for nearly any radical to be charged with anarchism, and thus criminally culpable for inciting violence.
Crumb, Evan, "Anti-Anarchist Legislation and the Road to the 1919 Red Hysteria" (2021). College Honors Program. 20.