Espionage Act of 1917 and Sedition Act (Amendment) of 1918

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Espionage Act of 1917 and Sedition Act (Amendment) of 1918

On April 2nd 1917, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America, ??went before Congress and called for a declaration of war. Both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of going to war with Germany.?# This was an act that led to much resistance among the American people. Not four months earlier the American people re-elected President Wilson, partly because of his success in keeping the United States out of this European war. However, a series of events, such as the Germans continuing submarine warfare and the attacks on five American ships, led President Wilson to sever diplomatic relations with Germany and send the United States into what would be labeled as World War I. As a result of the war the

government enacted the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 which led to the suppression of anti-war documents and sentiments, as well as the prosecution of over two-thousand individuals.#

Despite earlier resistance to the war by the American people, once war was declared patriotism swept over the nation. However, patriotism rose to it?s peak and quickly turned to an intolerance for any kind of dissidence of the war.

With a general intolerance for opponents of the war the government began to repress groups advocating against the war, as did private organizations. One such organization created to suppress anti-war ideals was the Committee on Public Information (CPI). CPI was put in place to provide trustworthy information to the public, as well as stifle any misleading wartime rumors. However, the CPI ended up creating propaganda for the government to distort the views of the American people and worked to destroy and discredit

all those who opposed the government?s ideology.

?The effect of such incessant propaganda was to promote hysterical hatred of all things German.?# Any individual who had the audacity to speak against the war was assaulted either verbal or physically, and on many occasions murdered.

With the ideals of the government on the war growing in the nation, Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917. After a joint session of Congress, where President Wilson reported on relations with Germany, the first of three bills that would create the Espionage Act of 1917, was introduced. The Congr...

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