Was 1919 The Worst Year

It been said that 1919 was the worst year ever in American history, so project members were asked to write a small blurb about whether they thought similarly throughout their studying of the year! Below are small excerpts from a larger piece that authors wrote about.

Caitlin Biebirch

Though American history is no stranger to unrest, discord, and antagonism, 1919 was perhaps the year that was most affected by negativity and violence. Some of this backlash was in part because there were several changes that had recently shaken the country and were culminating in racial discord. This is well-exampled by the Chicago “Race Riots.” This weeklong violent, deadly incident took place amidst what became infamously known as the “Red Summer,” which was a period characterized by a number of vicious attacks that occurred across the country, almost always beginning with whites attacking African Americans, and resulting in hundreds of deaths and the destruction of countless homes and businesses. The incident in Chicago stretched on for many days (from July 27 until August 3) and proved to be the most fatal of any of the twenty-five atrocities of the “Red Summer.” By its end, thirty-eight Chicagoans were dead and a staggering five hundred and thirty-seven were left injured.

Evan Kolinsky

Throughout the history of the United States, history showered the year of 1919 in a negative light and titled it the worst year in American history. After their victory against the German Empire, America prepared for prolonged peace in the World as the League of Nations prepared to ensure the peace through negotiation. Unfortunately, peace never became a realization for the United States as people began to challenge certain aspects of American society. People that desired return normalcy and kept up status-quo responded with everything at their disposal, including the Federal Government. With newspapers reporting about the on-goings of the 1919s, it appeared that the worst part of the year became seen in both the Elaine Race Riot and the United States not joining the League of Nations.

John Mcevoy

During the year 1919, America went through a very rough time. There has been many times throughout history where our country has been extremely divided, and 1919 happened to be one of those years. The Red Summer of 1919 was arguably one of the worst times that we have had as a country. The year of 1919 consisted of many severe race riots, which resulted in injuring and killing large numbers of African-Americans. The tension and hate during this time was one of a kind in the United States, making it very scary and dangerous for African Americans to live in big cities in the United States. The most well-known riot, was the Chicago Race Riot, which was the ugliest riot of The Red Summer, as nearly 40 people lost their lives, and there were over 500 people injured. This riot lasted an entire week, which was unlike most of the riots that happened during the Red Summer.

Julia Connelly

1919 was the worst year because of a combination of the red scare, racial tensions, and post war attitudes. The Red Scare resulted in the bombings of 1919; the bombs were sent to prominent anti communist officials by immigrant radicals. This display not only killed innocent people, but it further fueled anti immigration sentiments that were already churning in America. The backlash of the bombs resulted in the Palmer Raids, a mass deportation effort from the federal government. Even when people tried to look to sports and entertainment for solace after the war they were met with disappointment. The 1919 World Series turned out to be fraudulent and eight of the beloved White Sox players had been banned for life. The athletes spent the war years being paid well by company teams to play, this led the White Sox to get involved with gamblers to make more money at the professional level. The gambler that the White Sox met with was Arnold Rothstein, an immigrant. Many blamed him for tarnishing the reputation of baseball and for corrupting the Series. This also contributed to anti immigration and used the foreigner as a scapegoat for the wrong doings of an entire team.

Gloria Glovan

The year 1919 and the events that unfolded in its timespan are often overshadowed, for it is wedged in between the victory of the United States in World War One and the Roaring Twenties. Though these two moments in history are remembered for its high spirits, the year 1919 itself was filled with social unrest, political disorder, disease, race riots, and labor strikes. What isn’t realized by most, however, is that many of the events that took place in 1919 actually soured the end of the war and the Roaring Twenties, and these events included the Paris Peace Conference, the imprisonment of Eugene Debs, and the Volstead Act.

Anthony Dittmar

As we all know, based on the three blog posts it is easy to say 1919 was not one of the most proud years in our nation’s history.1919 was certainly not one of our nations more “favorable” years to be quite nice. It probably goes down as one our nation’s worst years in history if we are being quite honest. Between race riots, radical issues, sport scandals, natural disasters, labor issues, and so much more there was a lot of negative things going on. Our nation just got out of fighting its most costly wars at this time, in World War One. It was financially exhausting to say the least and now a new race war on its home-front was about to take form. White nationalists did not want to see reform, while those who were African-American, (especially the veterans of World War One), wanted to see the same basic rights given to white Americans come their way as well. It was the least of what they deserved considering they just put their lives at risk for this same country who would not accept them. 1919 marked the beginning of the African American Rights Movement we would see in decades to come which was made evident during the Red Summer. Over the course of the summer we would see racially charged riots across the nation trying to put an end to the progress some felt Black American should have. These riots happened in many major cities including Chicago, Washington D.C., Omaha, Scranton, Philadelphia Syracuse, and so many more. Over three dozen cities had some sort of race riot signifying how universal this feeling was

Philip Infermo

Overall, 1919 can be identified as the worst year in American history solely for the fact that the occurrence of sociological shifts within the country stained the perception of the American image. Race riots, labor riots and even the effects of a horrible contagious virus defend the reasoning why some historians and scholars of American life would agree that the year of 1919 was officially the worst in American history. All these different factors played a role in the way American society had shifted through the decades to follow the year of 1919 and how these events helped shape the future of American society in a better way, a more progressive and tolerating way.