The Lusk Committee
The "Red Scare"
The committee's investigation responded to (and contributed to) the "Red Scare" which occurred throughout the United States following the First World War. The ideas of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia had spread throughout Europe, and some perceived these ideas as a threat to this country as well, especially as economic conditions quickly deteriorated after the war's end in November 1918. Increasing inflation, high unemployment, widespread labor strife, and a severe housing shortage, combined with nationalistic feelings stirred during and after the war, led to a strong distrust of pacifists, political radicals, liberals, and foreigners who did not support the war or traditional American economic and political values. The recent influx of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, as well as the movement of blacks to northern cities, also were seen by many people as a growing economic threat. Labor strikes, bombings of government officials' homes and offices by suspected radicals, and other events occurring throughout the country in 1919 led many New Yorkers to support the legislature in its investigation of the activities of socialists, communists, anarchists, left-wing labor groups, and others suspected of undermining the American way of life.