1929 August 29

President Hoover Declines to Pardon WW I Political Prisoners


Eleven years after the end of World War I, several hundred people who had been convicted under the Espionage Act for opposing the war were still in federal prison. The campaign for amnesty for these political prisoners, led in part by the ACLU, was one of the major civil liberties campaigns of the 1920s. On this day, President Herbert Hoover, in a letter to the famed social worker and activist Jane Addams, declined to pardon them, saying it would only open an “acrimonious discussion.”

Four years later, on December 23, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally pardoned all victims of the WW I Espionage Act prosecutions.

Learn more about the WW I prosecutions: Stephen Kohn, American Political Prisoners: Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts (1994)

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