Civil Liberties, World War I - Research Article from Americans at War

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Silencing Dissent

In June 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act, making it a crime for Americans to speak against their government's war effort, to incite disloyalty, or to encourage men to resist the draft. A year later, the more restrictive Sedition Act outlawed "disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language" against the flag, the Constitution, and even the uniform of the armed forces. Those who continued to speak against the war risked heavy fines and jail sentences of up to twenty years.

The Espionage Act gave the U.S. postmaster general, Albert S. Burleson, the power to deny mailing privileges to any newspaper or magazine that seemed to give comfort to the enemy. The Trading-with-the-Enemy Act (1917) gave Burleson additional powers over America's foreign-language press. The postmaster wielded these censorship powers enthusiastically, and by war's end many of the nation's radical newspapers and magazines had been driven into...

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This section contains 1,245 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Civil Liberties, World War I Encyclopedia Article
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Americans at War
Civil Liberties, World War I from Americans at War. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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