La Peur / The Fear Factor - an American Timeline

[accent on American Civilization (J.Dean)]

“Fear needs no definition. It is a primal, and so to speak,
a subpolitical emotion."
— Raymond Aron

c. 1000-mid-19th Century : The dreaded ocean passage from Europe
to America, from Leif Erickson through Columbus & beyond.

1607-1775 : Colonial Period.

- 1607 – Jamestown.

. Jamestown Colony : “The Starving Time” and near abandonment (1609–11 ; colony dwindles from 500 to 100, near-skeletal survivors reduced to cannibalism)

- Colonial Settlement, The Indian Wars & Fear
. The Pequote War (1637)
. King Philip’s War (16775-76)
. Bacon’s Rebellion (1676)
. Themes - *examples : Fear, Faith, & the Captivity Narrative ; demonized Native-Americans.

1622-1850 : Fear, the Frontier, and the Opening of the American West

1659-1660 : Quaker attacks against fear in Massachusetts : against the dark dogmas of election, predestination & original sin (Quaker executions in Mass. Bay Colony).
*examples : Quaker “inner light” vs. Puritan fear dogma.

1697 : Witchcraft & the Devil in early Colonial New England

. *examples : Salem Witch Trials (1692 ; voided : 1711 ; condemned by Mass. legislature : 1957)

1607-2008 : American Wilderness - the place of fear and hope

.” [ For ] what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men—and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not.”
- William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation - 1620-1647, Ch. IX

. [ of Cape Cod wilderness ] “It is a wild rank place, and there is no flattery in it.” - Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, 1865

. “The remaining western wilderness is the geography of hope.” - Wallace Stegner, Introduction, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, 1992

1754-1763 to the present : US Wars & Terror Tactics* (used by or against Americans)

1. The French and Indian War (1754–1763 ; aka : the American phase of the “Seven Years’ War” fought between France & GB)

*examples : scalping takes hold among Indians & EuroAmericans (Governor Edward Cornwallis’ proclamation of 1749 to settlers of Halifax for the payment of Indian scalps, & by French in 1749 for payments to Indians for the scalps of British soldiers)

2. Revolutionary (aka : “American Revolution”, the “War of Independence”)

*examples : Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton his force of Northern Tories the Green Dragoon (aka : the British Legion), and his use of “ total war”, which meant that civilians who helped the enemy were the enemy.

3. War of 1812 (aka : the “Second War for Independence” ; the “War for Economic Independence” )

4. Civil War1861-1865 (aka : the “War Between the States” ; “Secession”)

*examples : Gen. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” (through Georgia : 1864 ; through the Carolinas to Virginia,1865)

*examples : the July 1863 draft riots in New York City & the removal
of the African-American in 19th Century urban America.

5. Spanish American War 1898.
*examples : explosion of the USS Maine & "yellow journalism"

6. WWI 1917-18 (aka : the “Great War” ; “The War to End All Wars”)

7. WWII (aka : the Axis Powers versus the United Nations — or : versus The Allies)

*examples : “Fifth Column” fear of the enemy within – domestic actions against Italian, Germans, and Japanese.

8. Korean (first of the great “Cold War” conflicts)

*examples : Korean War as a battle against the “Yellow Peril” (as in E. J. Kahn’s non fiction work of the time The Peculiar War) ;
political committee actions of Joseph P. Kennedy – Kennedy
dynasty patriarch.

9. Vietnam (official US military assistance : 1961-1973 ; conventional
& guerilla warfare)

10. Gulf War (1991 ; High Tech War)

11. The War Against Terrorism (since September 11, 2001 ; HT, conventional & guerilla warfare)

. US-Iraq War.

. * international examples : Fallujah bridge atrocity incident
by Iraqis vs The Abu Ghrabu prison torture & abuse incident
by Americans.

. * domestic examples : institutions & laws designed to combat fear (USA Patriot Act, law since October 26, 2001 ; US Dept. of Homeland Security, “DHS”, March 1, 2003 – present)

1865-1877 : Reconstruction & Fear.

. *examples : after the Civil War, lynching became particularly associated with the South & with the first Ku Klux Klan (founded 1866) as a way to control carpet baggers & negroes.

1865-1891 : Fear & the final settlement of the West

. *examples : the Donner Party , 1846-1847 : overcoming fear in order
to survive, ordeal by hunger.

1895-1898 : beginning of the US mass media tradition of scandal-mongering, sensationalism, or other unethical or unprofessional practices (yellow journalism) to scare up sales.

*examples : Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World & William Hearst’s New York Journal.

1890s-present : Hollywood, US movies, & the selling of fear

*examples : the first US feature film “The Hold Up” — which ends with a gun pointed at the audience.

1900s America & the Fear of Anarchists.

. *examples : President McKinley and the trial & execution of Leon Czolgosz ; Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman & “propaganda by the deed”.

1900-present : American mass media scares

. *examples : 1938, Orson Welles’ War of the World’s radio scare ;
1998-1999 : media frenzy, pack journalism, & the “sexual predator” : the Monica Lewinsky affair.

1908 - present : Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) & the surveillance of domestic fears (1908 : Bureau of Investigation (BOI) ; name was changed to FBI in 1935.)

1917 to 1920 : The Red Scare & the Palmer Raids

1918-1920 : Spanish Flu

. Illness, epidemics, & the fear of the other in US Civilization.
*examples : Spanish Flu, Polio, Aids.

1920 : American Civil Liberties Union founded ("to defend & preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.")

1920s, early – Fear of the Jew.

. *examples : The International Jew, 4 vol. set of books
published & distributed in the early 1920s by Henry Ford’s
The Dearborn Independent

1933-1941 : FDR’s New Deal & Social Security : Confronting Economic Fear With Social Policy

1929-1941 : Uses of Fear during the US Great Depression

. *examples — the demagogues Father Charles Coughlin ; Governor Huey Long.

1938–1975 : House Committee on Un-American Activities (aka : HUAC, HCUA)

*examples : the Army McCarthy hearings, 1954.

Late 1940s to the late 1950s : McCarthyism, Political Repression & the Fear of Communism

*examples : McCarthyism and the Universities – Fear of Speaking Out Among US Intellectuals

1950s South : Minority Fear in the US South in the 1950s.

*examples : Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968).
*examples (overcoming & speaking out against fear) : the Emmett Till incident (1955).

1950s mainstream America : Fear (anxieties, tensions,”Age of Anxiety”) :

*examples : anticommunism ; attacks on progressive education ; bomb culture ; intellectuals and conservatism ; racism ; return to religion ; gender roles ; suburban life ; television ; the “unconscious conspiracy” concept ; youth & juvenile delinquency

1960s Anti-Vietnam War Protest : “Hard Hat” Fear (hawks, owls) versus fear of the “Doves” (chickens)

1960s to 1970s : Fear of the US counterculture – the counterculture goes mainstream.

late 1970s-90s : Luddities & Luddism in the USA

*examples : the Unabomber (aka : Ted Kaczynski)

1980s : the fear factor in Ronald Reagan’s America

*examples : fear of big government ; triumph of fear against communism over Soviet communism ; fear of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

1980s-present : fears of sexual harassment & child abuse in American life.

Jan. 20, 2001 – present : US presidential administration of George W. Bush : Using fear as Opportunity

*examples : In his book Bush at War, Bob Woodward reports that on the evening of September 11 the President said not once but twice that the day’s terrible events were in fact "an opportunity."

Range of possible additional themes & related events (US Civ.) :

  •  US nativism & fear ;
  •  US mass media & paranoia ; fear & safety ;
  •  US medical & social problems among America’s old people : Fear of hospitalization, Fear of unpleasant investigations Fear of treatment ;
  •  US fear & the social construction of race ;
  •  US fear and the social construction of color – specifically “whiteness” ;
  •  US fear & American domestic “diversity” pressures of the 90s-present
  •  The effect of fear on US civil liberties & human rights.
  •  Fear of Failure in America
  •  Fear in the USA versus Fear in Western Europe : Uses & Abuses.