1919 July 18

Party Held to Celebrate Roger Baldwin’s Release from Prison


Roger Baldwin, future head of the ACLU, had been sentenced to prison for refusing as a matter of conscience to cooperate with the World War I draft on October 30, 1918. His statement to the judge, a powerful statement of conscience, was widely circulated and helped establish Baldwin’s national reputation as a person of integrity and courage.

Upon his release on this day, his friends organized a party at the apartment of Norman Thomas, a friend and fellow civil libertarian. The caterer’s bill for the party later indicated that no alcoholic beverages were provided at the party.

After his release, Baldwin traveled across the country, working in factories to acquaint himself with the conditions of working people, and on January 19, 1920, he presided over the first meeting of the new ACLU.

Learn more about Roger Baldwin: Robert Cottrell, Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union (2000)

Watch a documentary on Baldwin, Traveling Hopefully: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND_uY_KXGgY

Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

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