Theory and Society

, 39:1 | Cite as

The sociopolitical origins of the American Legion



The American Legion was one of the most politically consequential organizations in the twentieth-century United States. It was a local bedrock of anti-communism in two post-war red scares and throughout the cold war. It also built a lavish and cross-nationally unique welfare state for American veterans. In this article, I examine the origins of the American Legion and demonstrate that it was organized by rentier capitalists acting in their intraclass and interclass interests. Most importantly, the Legion was an organization that fought the “battle over class” by denying the importance of class as a social concept and proposing “Americanism” as an alternative. I also argue that the Legion’s extreme anti-communism combined with its dedication to welfare provision for American veterans altered the course of American welfare state development.


Social Register Preparedness Organization National Guard Welfare Provision Preparedness Movement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colby CollegeWatervilleUSA

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