Civil Liberties During & After WWI

Did They Go Too Far?


As WWI continued to be fiercely fought, the U.S. started to take action in getting the public to side with their actions. They did everything possible to boost the people's morale. Because of this want for a positive outlook on the war, the U.S. even went as far as suppressing the freedom to speak out against the war. The two acts that did this were the Espionage and Sedition acts. These were affirmed when Schenck ( a socialist) tried to rally against the draft. Due to this, he faced charges and was imprisoned, holding up the validity of these acts. Later on, two men named Sacco and Vanzetti were wrongly accused of murder. Due to their anarchist beliefs ( somewhat similar to Schenck's) and their race, the two were charged. In these tumultuous times, we can see that the U.S.'s sense of right and wrong was skewed.

Events and People

Espionage Act- This act ruled that any person that spoke out against the military or impeded their actions in any way was punishable by law.

Schenck v. US (1919)- Ruled that a person did not have freedom to speak out against the draft (validated the Espionage Act).

Sedition Act- Extended the powers of the Espionage act to include putting the war or government efforts into a negative light.

Eugene V. Debs- The most prominent activist for Socialism during WWI and a leader in the efforts of labor unions.

Sacco and Vanzetti- Two anarchists that were convicted for the murder of two other men. They were believed to have been wrongly convicted on basis of there political beliefs and their race.