Date Approved

5-7-2020

Embargo Period

5-8-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. History

Department

History

College

College of Humanities & Social Sciences

First Advisor

Klapper, Melissa

Second Advisor

Blanck, Emily

Third Advisor

Rose, Chanelle

Keywords

American Federation of Labor, American Legion, Americanism, anticommunism, Red Scare, square deal

Subject(s)

United States--History--20th century; Conservatism--History

Disciplines

United States History

Abstract

This work explores the ideological contributions of the American Legion and the American Federation of Labor to American conservatism in the 1920s. It argues that the two organizations shared a vision of what the author calls Square Deal Americanism, a loose conception of ideal citizenship that added a nationalist rejection of class to more traditional nativist Americanism. The conservatism of both groups took inspiration from the legacies of the Progressive Era and World War I. They sought an active role for the federal government and engaged citizenry in eliminating any strain of radicalism, fostering patriotism, and securing a square deal between capital and labor.

Primarily through published sources, but also buttressed by archival work, this thesis demonstrates how the two organizations worked together toward a loosely shared vision of Americanism to a degree underestimated by historians. The Legion and AFL collaborated on anticommunist activities during the Red Scare of 1919-1920, were part of an information sharing network that included civic societies and the federal government, partnered to promote patriotic legislation and restrict immigration, and publicized their vision of the loyal American who placed nation above class. Finally, this work demonstrates how their conception of Square Deal Americanism led individuals in both organizations to make early, if cautious and ultimately abandoned, praise of Fascism.

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