On the evening of September 6, 1901 anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot and killed U.S. President William McKinley. This violent scene set the stage for the creation of a popular, political, and legal culture premised upon defending the American nation from the specter of anarchy, both real and imagined. In this dissertation, I argue that the opening years of the twentieth century should be understood as a critical moment in the history of the American national security state. Beginning in 1901, government institutions enacted security legislation and policy in an effort to defend the state and the nation from the threat of enemy anarchists, engaging in a political and popular cultural environment defined by discourses surrounding exclusion and surveillance. I analyze these popular conceptualizations of anarchists as enemies of the nation and state alongside the circulation of a security-centric political discourse and the growth of surveillance bureaucracies as a way to trace the rise of a culture of state power and national identity centered upon the languages and metaphors of national security. National leaders enacted regulatory policies such as the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1903 at a critical moment of federal growth in U.S. history. They increased the breadth and scope of federal bureaucracies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service in order to secure the nation from the threats posed by anarchists. This national security project was rationalized as a necessary defensive measure to protect the nation from enemy anarchists. Americans engaged in a culture of war during a time of peace and from 1901 onward, the American nation-state acted as if it was at war with anarchy.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2014. Major: History. Advisors: Barbara Y. Welke and Kevin P. Murphy. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 307 pages.
Johnson, Ryan M..
War is the health of the State: war, empire, and anarchy in the languages of American national security.
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