In early 1917 Russia's revolution against centuries of despotism excited Americans. President Woodrow Wilson hoped that the abdication of the czar on 15 March would elicit a period of worldwide democracy. He became one of the first foreign leaders to recognize the new regime, which was led by a party of Constitutional Democrats. Wilson imbibed the same faith in liberal revolution that had animated American thinkers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and William Seward.
The appearance of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky in Russia defied Wilson's hopes. In late 1917 these men took control of the Russian government. They pledged to pursue an international revolution that would undermine the liberal individualism and free market capitalism at the core of American foreign policy. Communism in Russia was a revolutionary challenge to America's own ideas of revolution.
Like his predecessors in the White House, Wilson had little tolerance for dissent. He believed that both communist ideas on the political Left and conservative traditions on the Right undermined his hopes for global democracy. To save the American revolutionary model overseas from its detractors, Wilson dispatched a small expeditionary force to assist anti-Bolshevik groups fighting in Russia's Siberian region during 1918 and 1919.
Thus began a long century of American hostilities with the communist regime in Russia. Sincere revolutionary enthusiasm in the United States often produced counterrevolutionary policies. Events in 1917 followed an American pattern set in the eighteenth century.