1918 July 22

City of Mt. Vernon, NY, Bans Hearst Papers, German Language Papers

 

An audience of 1,000 at a “loyalty” meeting in the small town of Mt. Vernon, NY, on this day enthusiastically endorsed the policy adopted by the Board of Alderman which banned the sale of newspapers published by the Hearst Corporation and also all German-language publications. The ban and the meeting reflected the intense anti-dissent, anti-German hysteria that had swept the country since the U.S. entered World War I fifteen months earlier (April 4, 1917).

The resolution adopted at the meeting accused the Hearst and German language publications of “utterances both disloyal and disparaging to our Government.” The resolution also called on “all citizens to suppress and propaganda, even by the spoken word, antagonistic to our Government or its conduct of the war, or disrespectful to the flag of the United States.” This language was a vague and expansive permission for people to take any action to deny critics of the war freedom of speech, press, and assembly.

The Hearst newspaper chain was one of the largest and most powerful in the country at the time., but evidently had been critical of the Wilson administration’s conduct of the war. (The great American film Citizen Kane (1941) is loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst.)

 

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