Example research essay topic: History Of The Red Scare During Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency – 1,293 words

When Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1916, he
narrowly gained victory on the platform He kept us
out of war, referring to World War I. Wilson was
against US involvement in the war for several
reasons; the US was isolated geographically from
the nations of Europe, and detached from the
issues that were argued there, the confusing
entanglements and causes of the war in Europe, and
the many ethnic groups and divisions in the US at
the time. However, by April of 1917, with German
U-boats attacking US merchant ships, Wilson
realized that America could not continue to remain
neutral in the war that had been going on in
Europe since 1914. He asked Congress for a
declaration of war from Congress on April 2 of
1917 and four days later Congress agreed. Because
of the many ethnic divisions in the US at the
time, the government knew that it would have to
take measures to make sure that the US citizens
were on its side. Wilson undertook a massive
propaganda effort in which the Committee of Public
Information was formed, headed by George Creel,
which sent 75,000 speakers around the country to
give patriotic speeches in schools and churches
and produced over 75 million pamphlets in several
languages explaining the USs relation to the war.
Needless to say, there were many in the US opposed
to the war, not only because of their ethnicity,
but because of their political and philosophical
views.

During that same year, Congress passed a
controversial measure called the Espionage Act. It
stated that anyone who disclosed information
compromising national defense would face a $10,000
fine and 20 years in prison. The act went further
than simply imprisoning people who compromised
national defense, it said that Whoever, when the
United States is at war shall willfully utter,
print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane,
scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of
government of the United States, or the
Constitution of the United States, or the military
or naval forces of the United States, or the flag
shall be punished by a fine of not more than
$10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty
years, or both…. Many people believed the act to
be unconstitutional but when challenged was
apparently ruled to be constitutional in Schenck
v. United States, and Debs v. United States.

The
test for legality used by supreme court justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes was whether the words create
a clear and present danger that they will bring
about substantive Evils Congress has a right to
prevent? This seems to indicate that Schenk was
unjustly sentenced because no proof was required
by the government to prove that Schenk had
actively sought to make people evade the draft.
The court simply had to prove that the words in
the leaflet had an overall bad tendency. This
interpretation was allowed by the extremely vague
language of the act. The Alien Act of 1918 gave
the secretary of labor the right to deport ” any
alien who, at any time after entering the United
States, is found to have been at the time of
entry, or to have become thereafter a member of
any anarchist organization.” This bill also used
very vague language and appears to discriminate
the leftists in the US. Perhaps both the Espionage
act and the Alien Act were meant to promote
solidarity among the people in the United States
during World War I, which is very necessary to
carry on a war. The Sedition Act of 1918 was
similar to the Espionage act; it prohibited people
from speaking against the United States government
or constitution. These three acts would be used,
out of context, by A.

Mitchell Palmer to detain
thousands of individuals because of their radical
views. Before Palmer was appointed attorney
general by Woodrow Wilson, he had supported womens
suffrage and trade unions. But once he was in
power, Palmer seemed to change his views on civil
rights completely. Palmer believed that Communism
was evil; saying The whole purpose of communism
appears to be the mass formation of the criminals
of the world to overthrow the decencies of private
life, to usurp property, to disrupt the present
order of life regardless of health, sex or
religious rights. Soon after taking office, Palmer
let out a list of 62 people he believed to be
dangerous anarchists. Palmer was worried about the
revolution that had occurred in Russia and became
convinced that Communist agents were planning to
overthrow the US government.

It seems rather
absurd that Palmer would think that Communism
would or could overthrow the government of the
United States, considering there were only about
70,000 self-professed communists in the country at
the time. His suspicions were further reinforced
by the fact that 38 bombs had been sent to leading
politicians and also an Italian anarchist blew
himself up in front of Palmers home. But rather
than going after the individuals who committed
these atrocities, he went after all that they were
associated with. On November 7th, 1919, the second
anniversary of the Russian revolution, Palmer and
Hoover launched what would later be known as the
Palmer Raids in which over 10,000 suspected
communists and anarchists were arrested. Neither
Palmer nor Hoover had any evidence that an
uprising or revolution was going to occur, but
that did not prevent them from holding many of
these people without trial for substantial amounts
of time. The vast majority of these people were
later released but 248 people were deported to
Russia because of Palmer and Hoovers suspicion.
When people were suspected of being involved of
being involved in Red groups and arrested, they
were often treated poorly and beaten by the
officers who arrested them.

The beatings were
encouraged by Palmer. While attorney general,
Palmer made several attempts at passing bills. One
of his bills called for the automatic deportation
of any individual involved with a Red
organization, it also called for the
denaturalizing of naturalized citizens if they
were thought to be of a Red organization. This
particular bill did not pass. The US Justice
Department decided to deny any Red a
court-appointed lawyer, as they believed this
declaration to be in the governments best
interest. In January of 1920 6,000 more people
were arrested.

Palmer and Hoover had no evidence
of a revolution but said that the Communist
revolution was going to be on May 1st, later that
year. Panic ensued, but when the revolution failed
to materialize, people began to dislike Palmer and
criticized him for denying people their civil
liberties. It is believed by his opponents that
Palmer had devised the Red Scare to further his
political campaign for president in 1920. The US
government broke many of the amendments to the
constitution during the Red Scare. It broke the
First Amendment by not allowing the freedom of
speech. The Second Amendment was broken by
unreasonable searches; they would often would go
into Red organizations illegally and search for
Communist agendas.

The Sixth Amendment was broken
because there were no longer trials for Communists
and simply deported them. The Eighth Amendment was
broken when the US allowed for cruel and unusual
punishments by beating many of the Reds that were
jailed. The Ninth Amendment was broken when the
government denied the previously listed Amendments
to US citizens. Finally, the first article of the
Fourteenth Amendment was broken because the US
government took away citizenship of naturalized
citizens. Palmer seemed to believe that he was in
fact protecting national security by taking all
these actions against the Reds. But it seems his
fears were misplaced as there were obviously no
viable reasons for arresting the thousands of
people he did.

If there were Palmer ought to have
gone through the due process of law to arrest the
thousands he did. But instead he arrested
thousands of people who had different political
views from him..

Research essay sample on History Of The Red Scare During Woodrow Wilsons Presidency