Essay on Civil Liberties During World War One

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Mackenzie Deane Period 4 Civil Liberties during World War One According to the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Nowhere in the First Amendment does it state that in times of war, the government can change the laws that have been made to protect the people of the United States. Although some thought President Wilson’s actions were just, he did not abide by the rules of the First Amendment, and because of that, he went too far in limiting people’s civil liberties during World War…show more content…
If this is hard to believe, the case of Eugene Debs demonstrates how it was done. Debs lectured fellow socialists on the detriments of the draft. In his speech he stated, “The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another… The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles… I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets”. Debs did just that, this speech cost him ten years in prison. Many would say that he was only speaking his mind, and he should be able to do that, but the government had most power, and they got the final say. Charles Schenck had a similar case. While passing out pamphlets giving men reasons to not join the army, he was arrested and charged with violating the Espionage Act. Again, he was only trying to inform people of the disturbing side of the war. After the Espionage Act, came the Sedition Act in 1918. The Sedition Act did not allow language “tending to incite, provoke, and encourage resistance to the United States in said war”. This Act infringed further on people’s First Amendment rights. Individuals’ abilities to express themselves were curtailed. One of the people that went against this Act was Joseph Abrams. Abrams was a Russian immigrant who did not agree with the Americans invading Russia. Because of this,
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