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)

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