Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Antiwar and Radical History Project – Pacific Northwest
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Even as the government implemented conscription and mobilized support for the war, opposition remained strong among leftists and some immigrant communities. (Courtesy of the University pf Washington Librairies)

Socialist labor leader Hulet Well organized antiwar activities in Seattle. He was sentenced to five years in prison. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

World War I: special section


Opposition to America's wars was not new. Antiwar movements had emerged during the War of 1812, the war against Mexico (1846-48), and the 1898 war against Spain. But World War I saw the development of a much more consequential opposition, numbering in the millions, drawing on many sectors of society, and powerful enough to inspire a massive government crackdown that included thousands of arrests, the suppression of newspapers and organizations, and a tightly coordinated public information campaign that branded dissenters as enemy agents and dangerous subversives.

World War I proved pivotal for German Americans, many of whom mobilized to promote American neutrality during the years 1914-1916 only to become targets of suspicion and hatred when the US entered the war in 1917.

It was pivotal too for the Socialist Party, the Industrial Workers of the World, and other radical organizations that opposed American involvement. After 1917, radicals supplied much of the energy for the antiwar movement, and radical organizations paid dearly for their dissent. The government campaign to suppress antiwar opposition turned into a generalized red scare that continued into the 1920s. The American left was never the same.

This section explores antiwar activism and the reaction to it in the Pacific Northwest.

Start with an introductory essay by Jessie Kindig: Labor Radicalism and World War I.

Then read the detailed account by Rutger Ceballos: Reds, Labor and the Great War: AntiWar Activism in the Pacific Northwest