1918 November 25

“Patriotic” Mob Attacks Socialist Rand School of Social Science

 

A mob of self-styled “patriots,” led by a Canadian soldier in uniform, attacked the socialist Rand School of Social Science in New York City on this day. Founded in 1906, the Rand School was arguably the largest educational institution in the U.S. that taught socialist-related courses. Many prominent socialists and radicals, including Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Scott Nearing (June 16, 1915), spoke at Rand-sponsored events or taught regular courses there.

World War I had ended just two weeks before the raid, on November 7, 1918, but the anti-radical, anti-immigrant, and anti-labor passions that the war had aroused continued. In 1919-1920 these passions lead to the notorious Palmer Raids in which thousands of alleged radicals were rounded up, first on November 7, 1919 and then in an even larger crackdown on January 2, 1920.

In 1919 the Rand School was attacked by agents of the New York State Lusk Committee and its records seized as part of the committee’s investigation of radicalism in America. See the Lusk Committee’s four-volume report, which smeared many liberal, pacifist, and civil liberties groups, Revolutionary Radicalism (April 24, 1920).

Learn more about the repression of civil liberties during World War I and the Red Scare: Christopher M. Finan, From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (2007)

And learn about J. Edgar Hoover’s key role in the repression: Kenneth Ackerman, Young J. Edgar: Hoover and the Red Scare, 1919–1920 (2011)

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