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The Seattle Uprising or Seattle General Strike of 1919 was an attempted revolution which led to the creation of a short-lived anarchist city.


Combination of a massive rise in anarcho-syndicalism in the region, optimism from the Russian Revolution and a rise in unemployment led many people to distrust capitalism and the state, desiring to create a new society.


Striking workers organized free food, fire departments, a city guard, milk deliveries and garbage collection in order to keep the city running along anarchist lines.


Many volunteers came to protect striking workers from assault, murder, robbery and rape. A city guard of unarmed World War I veterans was formed, who were only authorized to use warnings and persuasion to stop crime. In the context of solidarity, free food and empowerment of people to make decisions that affected their lives led to a significant decrease in crime. Even authorities were shocked, with a general stationed there commenting that he had never seen a city so quiet and orderly.[1]


In the end, the US government threatened to deploy the military in Seattle and violently crush the uprising, whilst many union leaders were worried about appearing too radical and sabotaged the movement. Ultimately, the combination of fear, sabotage and mistrust led to the strike being called off and a return to business as usual in Seattle. Although the event left a massive mark on Seattle's culture, which still has a strong union movement and a left-wing culture which did not exist before the strike.


  1. Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States