When Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1916, he narrowly gained victory on the platform “He kept us out of war,” referring to World War I. Wilson was against US involvement in the war for several reasons; the US was isolated geographically from the nations of Europe, and detached from the issues that were argued there, the confusing entanglements and causes of the war in Europe, and the many ethnic groups and divisions in the US at the time.
However, by April of 1917, with German U-boats attacking US merchant ships, Wilson realized that America could not continue to remain neutral in the war that had been going on in Europe since 1914. He asked Congress for a declaration of war from Congress on April 2 of 1917 and four days later Congress agreed.
Because of the many ethnic divisions in the US at the time, the government knew that it would have to take measures to make sure that the US citizens were on its side. Wilson undertook a massive propaganda effort in which the Committee of Public Information was formed, headed by George Creel, which sent 75,000 speakers around the country to give patriotic speeches in schools and churches and produced over 75 million pamphlets in several languages explaining the US’s relation to the war. Needless to say, there were many in the US opposed to the war, not only because of their ethnicity, but because of their political and philosophical views.
During that same year, Congress passed a controversial measure called the Espionage Act. It stated that anyone who disclosed information compromising national defense would face a $10,000 fine and 20 years in prison. The act went further than simply imprisoning people who compromised national defense, it said that “Whoever, when the United States is at war… shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag… shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both….” Many people believed the act to be unconstitutional but when challenged was apparently ruled to be constitutional in Schenck v. United States, and Debs v. United States.
Still riding the Trojan horse The Shield of Achilles: War, Law and the Course of History by Philip Bobbitt 960 pp, Allen Lane This is a book of extraordinary ambition. It could well have been called A General Theory of War, Peace and History. For that is what it proffers, at least for political history over the last half-millennium as perceived through European and American eyes. And it has a ...
The test for legality used by supreme court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was whether “the words create a clear and present danger that they will bring about substantive Evils Congress has a right to prevent?” This seems to indicate that Schenk was unjustly sentenced because no proof was required by the government to prove that Schenk had actively sought to make people evade the draft. The court simply had to prove that the words in the leaflet had an overall bad tendency. This interpretation was allowed by the extremely vague language of the act.
The Alien Act of 1918 gave the secretary of labor the right to deport ” any alien who, at any time after entering the United States, is found to have been at the time of entry, or to have become thereafter a member of any anarchist organization.” This bill also used very vague language and appears to discriminate the leftists in the US. Perhaps both the Espionage act and the Alien Act were meant to promote solidarity among the people in the United States during World War I, which is very necessary to carry on a war.
The Sedition Act of 1918 was similar to the Espionage act; it prohibited people from speaking against the United States government or constitution. These three acts would be used, out of context, by A. Mitchell Palmer to detain thousands of individuals because of their radical views.
Before Palmer was appointed attorney general by Woodrow Wilson, he had supported women’s suffrage and trade unions. But once he was in power, Palmer seemed to change his views on civil rights completely.
'1) a) The provisional government was devised from revolutionary duma members who refused to disband at the Tsar request. It was not an elected body, and therefore did not necessarily have the support of the people. The provisional government would be judged purely on the performance of national matters. The provisional government also lacked an official partnership with the Petrograd soviets, ...
Palmer believed that Communism was evil; saying “The whole purpose of communism appears to be the mass formation of the criminals of the world to overthrow the decencies of private life, to usurp property, to disrupt the present order of life regardless of health, sex or religious rights.” Soon after taking office, Palmer let out a list of 62 people he believed to be “dangerous anarchists”.
Palmer was worried about the revolution that had occurred in Russia and became convinced that Communist agents were planning to overthrow the US government. It seems rather absurd that Palmer would think that Communism would or could overthrow the government of the United States, considering there were only about 70,000 self-professed communists in the country at the time.
His suspicions were further reinforced by the fact that 38 bombs had been sent to leading politicians and also an Italian anarchist blew himself up in front of Palmer’s home. But rather than going after the individuals who committed these atrocities, he went after all that they were associated with.
On November 7th, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian revolution, Palmer and Hoover launched what would later be known as the Palmer Raids in which over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested. Neither Palmer nor Hoover had any evidence that an uprising or revolution was going to occur, but that did not prevent them from holding many of these people without trial for substantial amounts of time. The vast majority of these people were later released but 248 people were deported to Russia because of Palmer and Hoover’s suspicion. When people were suspected of being involved of being involved in “Red” groups and arrested, they were often treated poorly and beaten by the officers who arrested them. The beatings were encouraged by Palmer.
While attorney general, Palmer made several attempts at passing bills. One of his bills called for the automatic deportation of any individual involved with a “Red” organization, it also called for the denaturalizing of naturalized citizens if they were thought to be of a “Red” organization. This particular bill did not pass. The US Justice Department decided to deny any “Red” a court-appointed lawyer, as they believed this declaration to be in the government’s best interest.
When you get very angry at someone do you ever say things that you truly don't mean? For example, say your best friend stole your boyfriend from you. A couple days later you wrote a note to one of your other friends and said, "I hate Christi so much I just want to kill her." and a teacher intercepted it and read it. She then sent you to the office and you got in tons of trouble. How would you ...
In January of 1920 6,000 more people were arrested. Palmer and Hoover had no evidence of a revolution but said that the Communist revolution was going to be on May 1st, later that year. Panic ensued, but when the revolution failed to materialize, people began to dislike Palmer and criticized him for denying people their civil liberties. It is believed by his opponents that Palmer had devised the Red Scare to further his political campaign for president in 1920.
The US government broke many of the amendments to the constitution during the Red Scare. It broke the First Amendment by not allowing the freedom of speech. The Second Amendment was broken by unreasonable searches; they would often would go into ‘Red’ organizations illegally and search for Communist agendas. The Sixth Amendment was broken because there were no longer trials for Communists and simply deported them. The Eighth Amendment was broken when the US allowed for cruel and unusual punishments by beating many of the ‘Reds’ that were jailed. The Ninth Amendment was broken when the government denied the previously listed Amendments to US citizens. Finally, the first article of the Fourteenth Amendment was broken because the US government took away citizenship of naturalized citizens.
Palmer seemed to believe that he was in fact protecting national security by taking all these actions against the “Reds.” But it seems his fears were misplaced as there were obviously no viable reasons for arresting the thousands of people he did. If there were Palmer ought to have gone through the due process of law to arrest the thousands he did. But instead he arrested thousands of people who had different political views from him.