1917 July 13

Post Office Censorship of Anti-War Publications Protested

 

After the U.S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917, suppression of dissent by the administration of President Woodrow Wilson began almost immediately. Exclusion of anti-war publications from the mails by the Post Office was one of the most powerful instruments of repression. Two of the most important anti-war publications, The Masses and the Socialist Party’s magazine, American Socialist, were barred from the mails on July 7, 1917. On this day, a group of prominent New Yorkers, including attorney Dudley Field Malone, Collector of the Port of New York, met over lunch and agreed to send a representative to Washington to protest the exclusion of anti-war periodicals from the mails.

On the suppression of dissent by the Post Office, see the important case involving the exclusion of The Masses (July 24, 1917; November 2, 1917) and also publications of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (November 1, 1917) in the summer and fall of 1917.

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

See parts of The Masses issue that was banned:  William L. O’Neill, Echoes of Revolt: The Masses, 1911–1917 (1966)

Read about Postmaster General Burleson: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbu38

Learn about the ACLU during times of national crisis: https://www.aclu.org/aclu-history-defending-liberty-times-national-crisis

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