Written with the sweep of an epic novel and grounded in extensive research into contemporary documents, Savage Peace
is a striking portrait of American democracy under stress. It is the surprising story of America in the year 1919.
In the aftermath of an unprecedented worldwide war and a flu pandemic, Americans began the year full of hope, expecting to reap the benefits of peace. But instead, the fear of terrorism filled their days. Bolshevism was the new menace, and the federal government, utilizing a vast network of domestic spies, began to watch anyone deemed suspicious. A young lawyer named J. Edgar Hoover headed a brand-new intelligence division of the Bureau of Investigation (later to become the FBI). Bombs exploded on the doorstep of the attorney general's home in Washington, D.C., and thirty-six parcels containing bombs were discovered at post offices across the country. Poet and journalist Carl Sandburg, recently returned from abroad with a trunk full of Bolshevik literature, was detained in New York, his trunk seized. A twenty-one-year-old Russian girl living in New York was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for protesting U.S. intervention in Arctic Russia, where thousands of American soldiers remained after the Armistice, ostensibly to guard supplies but in reality to join a British force meant to be a warning to the new Bolshevik government.
In 1919, wartime legislation intended to curb criticism of the government was extended and even strengthened. Labor strife was a daily occurrence. And decorated African-American soldiers, returning home to claim the democracy for which they had risked their lives, were badly disappointed. Lynchings continued, race riots would erupt in twenty-six cities before the year ended, and secret agents from the government's "Negro Subversion" unit routinely shadowed outspoken African-Americans.
Adding a vivid human drama to the greater historical narrative, Savage Peace brings 1919 alive through the people who played a major role in making the year so remarkable. Among them are William Monroe Trotter, who tried to put democracy for African-Americans on the agenda at the Paris peace talks; Supreme Court associate justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who struggled to find a balance between free speech and legitimate government restrictions for reasons of national security, producing a memorable decision for the future of free speech in America; and journalist Ray Stannard Baker, confidant of President Woodrow Wilson, who watched carefully as Wilson's idealism crumbled and wrote the best accounts we have of the president's frustration and disappointment.
Weaving together the stories of a panoramic cast of characters, from Albert Einstein to Helen Keller, Ann Hagedorn brilliantly illuminates America at a pivotal moment.
PROLOGUE Armistice Day 1918
PART I . WINTER: JUBILATION AND HOPE
CHAPTER 1 Gods of War and Peace
CHAPTER 2 Spies Are Everywhere
CHAPTER 3 Christmas at Villa Lewaro
CHAPTER 4 Women and Molasses
CHAPTER 5 The List
CHAPTER 6 A Mere Slip of a Girl
CHAPTER 7 Polar Bears in Peril
CHAPTER 8 Sergeant Henry Johnson
CHAPTER 9 Trotter and the Passports
CHAPTER 10 The Magisterial Wand
CHAPTER 11 Blinders
CHAPTER 12 Shuffleboard
CHAPTER 13 In Like a Lion
CHAPTER 14 Out Like a Lion
PART II . SPRING: FEAR
CHAPTER 15 Inner Light
CHAPTER 16 Make-Believe Riots and Real Bombs
CHAPTER 17 It's in the Mail
CHAPTER 18 Monsieur Trotter
CHAPTER 19 302 Seconds in May
CHAPTER 20 What Happened on R Street
CHAPTER 21 War of a Different Sort
CHAPTER 22 Thrilling Feats
PART III . SUMMER: PASSION
CHAPTER 23 Missichusetts
CHAPTER 24 Paris
CHAPTER 25 Independence Day 1919
CHAPTER 26 The Narrow Path
CHAPTER 27 Miss Puffer Insane?
CHAPTER 28 That Certain Point
CHAPTER 29 Weapons in Their Hats
CHAPTER 30 King of the Index
CHAPTER 31 "I'll Stay With You, Mary"
PART IV . AUTUMN: STRUGGLE
CHAPTER 32 "The Right to Happiness"
CHAPTER 33 Tugs-of-War and of the Heart
CHAPTER 34 Autumn Leaflets
CHAPTER 35 Not Exactly Paradise
CHAPTER 36 Albert in Wonderland
CHAPTER 37 Greatness
CHAPTER 38 Armistice Day 1919
CHAPTER 39 Falling Ladders
CHAPTER 40 All Aboard
CHAPTER 41 Boughs of Glory
EPILOGUE Endings and Beginnings
Notes on Sources