1917 August 31

Anti-War Groups Can’t Find City for National Meeting


The New York Times reported on this day that the People’s Council of America for Democracy, a coalition of pacifist and anti-war groups, was having difficulty finding a city to hold a national meeting. After the U.S. entered World War I, on April 6, 1917, patriot fever swept the country. The resulting suppression of anti-war activity included attacks on pacifists, Socialists, opponents of the war, and young men suspected of evading the draft. The governor of Minnesota officially barred the group from meeting in that state; officials in Fargo, North Dakota, did likewise. The People’s Council also sought to hold its meeting in Washington, D.C., Chicago or Milwaukee. The police chief in Washington, however, announced that no street meetings by the group would be allowed in the city. The meeting was finally held in Chicago, but some delegates on their way to it were expelled from the town of Hudson, Wisconsin.

The travails of the People’s Council in simply finding a place to hold a meeting was indicative of the public hysteria against any opposition to the war.

Learn more: Paul L. Murphy, World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States (1979)

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