Civil Liberties of the Early Twentieth Century

Civil Liberties of the Early Twentieth Century

Length: 980 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
All throughout history civil liberties have been established, fought for, and abused. During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the civil liberties in the United States of America were tested. There were many events where the freedoms that our founding fathers had fought for Passive Voice (consider revising). Prejudice, fear, and racism all played a role during these events, during many of which they decided the outcome. Two events that demonstrate when the civil liberties in America were tested were during the trial of Sacco and Vanzettii and Schenek v. United States.
Schenek v. United States was a trial in 1919 that reaffirmed the conviction of a man for circulating antidraft leaflets among members of the armed forces. This trial upheld the Espionage and Sedition Acts, which by many deemed unconstitutional. The Espionage Act of 1917 was a United States federal law, which made it a crime for a person to convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies. The Sedition Act forbade Americans to use "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, flag, or armed forces during war. The act also allowed the Postmaster General to deny mail delivery to dissenters of government policy during wartime. These two laws denied the freedom of speech that our sacred Bill of Rights was supposed to uphold. The antidraft flyers that Schenek passed out claimed to be freedom of speech so the government could not stop the circulation of Schenek’s pamphlets. However, by passing out antidraft laws, Schenek had “the intent to interfere with the operation of success of the armed forces of the United States.” By doing this, he broke the law. He was sentenced to six months in prison for breaking an unconstitutional law. The government was trying to reduce the freedom of speech during a time of war so that the nation would be united as one. The opposition of some feared Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet so they took action by reducing some freedoms and imprisoning many people unconstitutionally.
The scare of not being united under a time of war was the cause of the Espionage and Sedition acts. These acts immediately caused the unfair conviction of Schenek and put him in prison. Although he was utilizing his freedom of speech, the unfair laws passed through the government by Woodrow Wilson, Congress, and the Supreme Court forbade him his civil liberties.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Civil Liberties of the Early Twentieth Century." 123HelpMe.com. 25 May 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=152080>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Narrative Of Liberalism During The Twentieth Century Essay

- Topic #2: How would you construct a narrative of liberalism in the twentieth century. What were its benchmark achievements and how did it change over time. The progressive era was a time period that opened the eyes of Americans. Rapid growth and industrialization caused huge strains on the labor force and government intervention was needed. There were key moments that pushed the American people into a progressive state and key moments that spoke measures of the success they had. The progressive era was just the beginning of the movement and set the bar for the rest of the twentieth century on what was expected from the government and our presidents....   [tags: Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt]

Research Papers
709 words (2 pages)

Civil Liberties : Freedom Of Religion, And The Lack Thereof Essay

- Civil liberties encompass areas of social life where people believe that the government power should rarely interfere with the peoples’ free choice. Throughout history, there have been numerous cases involving the denial of civil liberties or reevaluation of the constitutional amendments that involve civil liberties. Over the years, the Supreme Court has analyzed several cases to redefine what the peoples’ liberties actually consist of. This commentary will summarize and analyze the right to exercise freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the lack thereof, as well as what liberties criminal defendants have, if there are any....   [tags: First Amendment to the United States Constitution]

Research Papers
1060 words (3 pages)

Federal Sentencing Guidelines And The Crime Rate Of The Twentieth Century

- In the 1980’s the crack epidemic was in full swing. To combat drug-related crime, congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986 (Edwards). For the first time mandatory minimum sentencing went into effect for the criminal possession of cocaine and other illegal drugs. Then in 1994, to combat violent crime, Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (Edwards). New mandatory sentencing guidelines were recommended by the federal government. States that accepted the new guidelines were then awarded funds by the feds to build additional prisons and jails, and thus the prison-industrial complex was born (Schlosser)....   [tags: Mandatory sentencing, Crime, Prison]

Research Papers
1253 words (3.6 pages)

Economic Expansion in the Late Nineteenth Century and Early Twentieth Century

- Economic expansion in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century was driven by economic expansion and sole beliefs. In the past the United States was an agricultural nation and based there economy on farming. Since the United States based there economy on farming they need to expand was necessary for the country to grow. However as time went on the slow transition between farming to big business changed the motives for America’s expansion. In both era’s however the United States was able to justify its expansion through national belief....   [tags: US History]

Research Papers
933 words (2.7 pages)

Black or White: A Contrast of Liberties Essay example

- My life, as it stands today, is rarely affected by my racial background; I was born to a Caucasian mother and African American father out of wedlock. I came into this world in 1972 and was adopted by an interracial couple who also reflected the same backgrounds as my birth parents. Upon superficial appearances, many white folk are unaware of my racial mixture; for all intents and purposes, I look like a run of the mill white boy. Rather interestingly though, black folk can just tell; often, they cite that it is my hair, nose, and lips which provide the subtle clues....   [tags: caucasian, african-american, racial background]

Research Papers
1905 words (5.4 pages)

History of The Civil Rights Movement Essay

- The Civil Rights Movement of the mid-Twentieth century was the paramount force in the battle for racial and civil equality for African Americans in our nation today. Throughout the history of our nation, the fight for racial equality and civil rights has been a continuing struggle for African Americans. Proof of the importance of these principles can be found in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (US 1776) Despite the importance of equality to the precepts of our nation, slavery and i...   [tags: Racial Equality, Civil Equality, African Americans]

Research Papers
1616 words (4.6 pages)

Civil Rights Movements of the 1950's and 1960's Essay

- On December 1st, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of a bus to a white man. It was this simple act of defiance that, arguably, began the Civil Rights movement which lasted from 1955 through the 1960’s and altered the face of our nation forever. Following the arrest of Rosa Parks for her simple denial, African Americans in Montgomery began boycotting the bus system, one of the first major stands against racism in the 1950’s. On the heels of the Brown v....   [tags: Black Civil Rights in America]

Research Papers
1109 words (3.2 pages)

The Road to Abolishing HUAC Essay

- The Road to Abolishing HUAC: A Comparison of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee The history of the United States in the twentieth century was significantly influenced by the actions of civil liberties organizations. However, during the reign of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the 1950s, civil liberties organizations compromised their principles and did not protest HUAC’s repression of civil liberties. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) purged its Communist members and sympathizers, condoned congressional investigating committees, and failed to defend individuals whose civil liberties had been abridged....   [tags: ACLU American Civil Liberties Union ECLC]

Research Papers
4068 words (11.6 pages)

Ethnic Mexicans in the 20th Century Essays

- Given the social struggle of ethnic Mexicans in the United States, the 20th century turned to be pivotal in the social movements that would not only create opportunities but mobilize the ethnic Mexicans to push forward and make sure their voices where heard all throughout the century. They have used these means to incorporate into everyday life in the United States. Despite this they have struggled to achieve what in politics of the United States considers to be a ‘full citizenship’. Even though the US has dehumanized, criminalized, and subjugated ethnic-Mexicans, Social and Cultural Citizenships have changed the way of understanding politics of ethnic-Mexicans social movements because et...   [tags: Social Movements, United States]

Research Papers
1709 words (4.9 pages)

The Rise Of The Nineteenth And Twentieth Centuries Have Been Marred By Global Competition Between Developed Nations

- The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been marred by global competition between developed nations, militaristically, economically, and for cultural prominence. Nationalistic competition has influenced not only the way history is studied but also how it is taught and understood by the citizens of a nation. Just as national political systems differ between nations so do the schools of national historiography. As mentioned above in Germany historiography during the nineteenth century had a focus on the state and using the past to support the political system of the future, while in France the focus was on the role of the people and the revolution in the establishing of a French national i...   [tags: Historiography, History, Nationalism, Nation]

Research Papers
2007 words (5.7 pages)

Schenek v. United States was a largely publicized case and showed many Americans the oppression that was falling upon them.
The trial of Sacco and Vanzettii was one of the most celebrated criminal case of the postwar period. This case involved two Italian-born anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were arrested for a robbery and murder and later executed. They were accused of the killings of a shoe factory paymaster, a security guard, and the robbery of almost sixteen-thousand dollars from the factory’s payroll in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Many believe that they were sentenced for their political ideas and their ethnic origins rather than for any crime, they had committed, and the case became a great radical and liberal cause célèbre of the 1920’s. In fact, the judge who tried Sacco and Vanzetti was quoted to refer to the defendants as “those anarchist bastards.”
Both Sacco and Vanzetti had a strong defense and a well-put together case to prove they were innocent. Vanzetti even produced sixteen witnesses, Italians from Plymouth who claimed they had bought eels for the Christmas holiday from him, as a fish peddler, he had no time card. Jurors were swayed by several witnesses who identified Vanzetti at the scene of the burglary and by shotgun shells found on him when he was arrested five months after robbery. Jurors did not know that several prosecution witnesses had been interviewed by detectives shortly after the crime and later changed their initial descriptions of both the getaway car and the alleged criminals. Vanzetti was found guilty and the Judge sentenced him to two 12-15 years' imprisonment, the maximum sentence for the crime.
A large cause for the outcome of this trial was a surging postwar nativism that made way for prejudice and racism. Because the foreigners of America had different political ideas and came from countries that were seen as radical, the foreigners in America were judged and stereotyped. Socialism and Anarchism were popular in regions of Europe where many of America’s immigrants came from. With immigrants taking all of the American’s jobs, people were angry and scared at them. All of these reasons led people to be racist against Sacco and Vanzetti and ultimately leading to an unfair trial.
The judicial branch of the government of the United States of America is given the responsibility of declaring the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of court cases, laws, and many other things. In this instance, the judicial branch failed, not on just one trial, but on two, and also on the appeals case. The Constitution of this country states that the defendant in “innocent until proven guilty.” However, this was not the case in the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti. Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty from before the trial even started, and that was very unconstitutional and unjust.
In conclusion, the civil liberties of Americans during the first quarter of the twentieth century were tested. They were tested often and the public reacted. The civil liberties that our founding fathers fought for and gave us the right to have were being violated and the people of America challenged the government. With court cases, protests, and muckraking, forms of oppression were uncovered and publicized to the people of the United States of America. The two events discussed about earlier in this essay demonstrate some of the civil liberties that were abused during this time.
Return to 123HelpMe.com