1926 October 12

General Calls ACLU “The Most Radical Organization in the Country”


Retired Gen. Peter Traub, speaking at a forum on “Radicalism” in New York City on this day, called the ACLU “the most radical organization in the country.” Another retired general added, “They’re always singing about free speech and prating [sic] about democracy.” One of the generals continued, “The radicals are a “small minority” who receive “money from the intelligentsia.”

The attacks on free speech and the ACLU on this occasion were typical of the political mood of the 1920s, when there was virtually no support for freedom of speech or other constitutional rights. Many of the military officers who attacked the ACLU were members of the American Legion, founded on November 10, 1919, following World War I, which immediately emerged as one of the most vocal anti-civil liberties groups in the country.

For more on the ACLU in the 1920s, read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!