Unit 5 Class Notes- imperialism and wwi american Expansionism


The Espionage and Sedition Acts-



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The Espionage and Sedition Acts- Some violations of civil liberties came with the weight of the law. In June 1917 Congress passed the Espionage Act, and in May 1918 it passed the Sedition Act. Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts, one could be fined up to $10,000 and serve 20 years in jail for interfering with the war effort or saying anything disloyal, profane, or abusive about the government or the war effort.

  • Over 2,00 prosecutions of violations of these laws

  • Newspapers and magazines that opposed the war could lose mailing privileges

  • Socialist and labor leaders were often targeted

    • Eugene V. Debs was convicted and handed a 10-year prison sentence for speaking out against the war and the draft

    • “Big Bill” Haywood, leader of the Industrial Workers of the World was also thrown in jail

    • Anarchist Emma Goldman was jailed for 2 years and received a $10,000 fine for organizing the No Conscription League

  • The most famous challenge to the Espionage and Sedition Acts was the case Schenk V. United States.

    • Schenk’s conviction for distributing leaflets encouraging avoiding the draft was upheld

    • The Supreme Court claimed that during war time, speech that posed a “clear and present danger” could be limited


The War Encourages Social Change
The war had lasting effects, both positive and negative on African Americans and women.



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