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Civil Liberties during World War I

In his war message, Wilson had promised that if there was disloyalty, it
would be corrected with "a firm hand of stern repression." Shortly
thereafter, the CPI was created, and on June 15, 1917, the Espionage Act
was passed. This act gave the government authority to limit the rights of
speech and the press. The act had been passed after considerable debate
and many amendments. Somewhere in the process the public had become
convinced that the act conferred enforcement powers upon the CPI, a
misconception which Creel (head of CPI) never attempted to dispel. The
illusion of power was most effective in securing public cooperation with
various committee enterprises.
Title I, Section 3, of the Espionage Act made it a crime to make false reports
which would aid the enemy, incite rebellion among the armed forces, or
obstruct recruiting or the draft. In practice, this section was used to stifle
dissent and radical criticism. Those prosecuted under Title I included
Socialists Victor Berger and Eugene V. Debs, and "Big Bill" Haywood, one
of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World. Socialist and pacifist
newspapers were denied use of the mails under Title XII. In October, 1917,
another law required foreign language newspapers to submit translations of
all war-related stories or editorials before distribution to local readers.
The Espionage Act was bolstered in May, 1918, by a companion law, the
Sedition Act. It provided penalties of up to ten thousand dollars and twenty
years imprisonment for the willful writing, utterance, or publication of
material abusing the government, showing contempt for the Constitution,
inciting others to resist the government, supporting the enemy, or
hindering production of war materiel. Under this law, it was unnecessary to
prove that the language in question had affected anyone or had produced
injurious consequences. In addition, the Postmaster General was
empowered to deny use of the mails to anyone who, in his opinion, used
them to violate the act.(Adapted from Gale Student Resources)
The Espionage Act: passed in 1917, made it a crime to obstruct
(block) military recruitment and it authorized the Postmaster
General to deny mailing privileges to any material e considered
treasonous or harmful to the war effort.
The Sedition Act: passed in 1918 made it illegal to utter, print,
write or publish ay disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive
language about the government, the Constitution, the flag, the
armed forces or even the uniform of the Army or Navy.
Considering the two above mentioned Acts, decide whether or not the
defendants in the cases below are guilty or not Guilty. Your job is not to
interpret the law in terms of its constitutionality, but to apply it to the cases
in question. Be prepared to explain you decision. If guilty, determine a
sentence and/or fine. (Complete on a separate sheet of paper.)
Case #1:The American Revolution Movie
A Hollywood movie producer issued a film, The Spirit of 76, which
portrayed some scenes in which British soldiers committed some atrocities.
Claiming that th film questioned the faith of our ally, Great Britain, he
prosecution argued that the war effort demanded total Allied support.
Guilty or Not Guilty? ____

Case #2: The Anti-Draft Circulars
An American Socialist, feeling that American involvement in World War I
was an attempt to bolster the capitalist system, mailed circulars to men
eligible for the raft, stating that being conscripted against ones will was
unconstitutional and should be resisted. The prosecution argued that this
interfered with the governments right to raise an army in time of war.
Guilty or Not Guilty? ____

Case #3: The Leaflets Dropped from a Window
Several men, concerned about Americas involvement in the unfolding
Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, dropped some leaflets from a window t
pedestrians below. The leaflets urged that American workers go on strike to
protest Americas involvement in another nations civil war. The
prosecution argued that while the leaflets made no statement about the
U.S.s role in World War or its allies, a strike might hamper war production
and thus their actions were illegal.
Guilty or Not Guilty? ____
Case #4: The Anti-Draft Speech
An American Socialist leader stood on a street corner in Cincinnati, Ohio
and told a crowd of passers-by that the daft was wrong, hat the European
War was not Americas fight, and that the U.S. should withdraw its troops
immediately. The prosecution contended that these words were
inflammatory ad could hinder the recruitment of soldiers by the selective
Service Administration.
Guilty or Not Guilty? ____