III. Timeline of the Cold War and Red Scare


International and National Events

Events in Washington State



Everett Massacre


U.S. enters World War I; Bolshevik Revolution brings communists to power in Russia

IWW (Wobbly) lumber workers strike on Olympic Peninsula


Allies win World War I



Nationwide "Red Scare"; Palmer raids lead to the arrest and deportation of hundreds of radicals

Failed Seattle General Strike; Centralia Massacre; Radical movement in Washington collapses as employers break unions and unions expel radicals


Politically conservative climate

Politically conservative climate


Stock market crash; start of Great Depression

Depression hits Washington very hard


Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany; Franklin Roosevelt becomes President of U.S.

Unemployment reaches 30%; Communist Party grows slowly


Frightened by the rise of Nazism, the USSR seeks a "United Front" with capitalist nations; Communists in the U.S. endorse FDR's "New Deal" reforms

Washington communists begin cooperating with liberals; Communist Party grows rapidly


Nearly 500,000 Americans join Communist Party; Communists have little power in national politics

Communists elected to lead Washington Pension Union (WPU); Roughly 10 communists elected to state legislature


Hitler and Stalin sign Nazi-Soviet Pact; Germany and the UsSr both invade Poland, starting World War II;
American communists oppose U.S. entry into the war

Disgusted by communists' cooperation with Hitler, thousands of people leave the Communist Party


Germany invades UsSr; Bombing of Pearl Harbor brings U.S. into war; U.S. and USSR become allies in fight against Nazis

Communists wholeheartedly cooperate in U.S. war efforts; Communist Party grows again


USSR wins important battles against Germany; U.S. wins important battles against Japan

Washington economy grows at an incredible pace during wartime


USSR and U.S. defeat Germany; U.S. defeats Japan by dropping two atomic bombs

Plutonium for atomic bomb comes from Hanford


USSR blocks free elections in Eastern Europe; Relations between U.S. and USSR grow tense

Republicans win landslide victory with anti-communist campaign theme


President Truman issues "Truman Doctrine," committing U.S. to contain world communism

State legislature creates Canwell Committee




Canwell Committee holds hearings on communist influence in WPU


USSR blockades West Berlin; Truman orders airlift of supplies into West Berlin to prevent communist take-over of city

Canwell Committee holds hearings on communists in the Seattle Repertory Playhouse and University of Washington (UW)


Truman wins surprising reelection victory

UW holds tenure hearings about 6 profs.; 4 of 6 members of Canwell Committee fail to win reelection; Washington voters pass WPU-sponsored Initiative 172, creating a system of health care for the poor


U.S. begins prosecution of Communist Partyleaders for conspiracy to overthrow the government

UW Regents dismiss 3 professors and place 3 others on probation; College presidents endorse the UW dismissals and begin to oust communists from teaching jobs; State legislature does not renew the Canwell Committee


USSR explodes its first atomic bomb; U.S. and 11 other capitalist democracies create NATO, a permanent military alliance; Communists win Chinese Civil War

Seattle Times publishes articles about the Canwell Committee's false accusations against UW Professor Melvin Rader


Communist North Korea invades South Korea; U.S. enters Korean War; Senator Joe McCarthy gains national attention by claiming communists have infiltrated the government

Washington voters repeal Initiative 172


McCarthyism at high tide—hundreds of actors, teachers, and government officials lose their jobs; Increased military spending as U.S. fights Korean War

State legislature requires loyalty oaths for state employees and outlaws the Communist Party; Boeing grows rapidly and uses profits from military sales to build 707 jetliner; Hanford and state military bases grow rapidly


Ethel and Julius Rosenberg executed for selling atomic secrets to USSR; Korean War ends

Five Washington communists convicted of conspiracy to overthrow government; WPU President William Pennock kills himself during trial


Army-McCarthy hearings lead the Senate to strip McCarthy of his power





Professors protest the UW's refusal to allow physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to speak on campus; UW professors challenge the legality of loyalty oaths


Anti-communist fervor subsides; U.S. Supreme Court strengthens First Amendment protections; USSR launches Sputnik satellite

U.S. Supreme Court overturns the conviction of Washington communists; Boeing profits from "space race"


Cuban Missile Crisis

Space-themed World's Fair in Seattle


U.S. Supreme Court declares Washington's loyalty oaths unconstitutional



Vietnam War begins

Military bases and Boeing grow rapidly


U.S. withdraws from Vietnam War; Era of "détente" begins as U.S. normalizes relations with China and signs arms control treaties with USSR

Washington suffers a severe recession as Boeing lays off 100,000 workers and Hanford stops producing material for nuclear weapons; Navy decides to build a major base for nuclear submarines at Bangor, Washington


Détente ends as UsSr invades Afghanistan and U.S. begins a military build-up

Defense money again flows into Washington state




Hanford resumes production of plutonium


Détente resumes as U.S. and USSR sign more arms control agreements

Hanford shuts down plutonium plants again; Effort to clean up nuclear waste at Hanford begins in 1987


End of the Cold War; Collapse of the USSR as Soviet republics and Eastern European nations seek independence




U.S. slowly cuts military spending, but continues role as "global policeman"—deploying to troops to Persian Gulf, Bosnia, etc.

Importance of military spending in state economy declines somewhat, but military spending still accounts for about 10% of all jobs in Washington state

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Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest