1918 October 30

Roger Baldwin, ACLU Founder, Sentenced to Prison; Delivers Famous Statement of Conscience

 

Roger Baldwin, then Director of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (July 4, 1917) and future director of the ACLU (January 19, 1920), was convicted of refusing to cooperate with the draft and sentenced to prison. His statement to the judge at the time of his sentencing was published as “The Individual and the State,” widely circulated in liberal circles, and established Baldwin’s reputation as a person of great integrity.

Following his release from prison, Baldwin reorganized the National Civil Liberties Bureau into the ACLU, on January 19, 1920, and served as its director until his retirement in 1950.

Baldwin to the court (excerpt):The compelling motive for refusing to comply with the draft act is my uncompromising opposition to the principle of conscription of life by the State for any purpose whatever, in time of war or peace. I not only refuse to obey the present conscription law, but I would in future refuse to obey any similar statute which attempts to direct my choice of service and ideals. I regard the principle of conscription of life as a flat contradiction of all our cherished ideals of individual freedom, democratic liberty and Christian teaching. I am the more opposed to the present act, because it is for the purpose of conducting war.”

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

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

Read about Baldwin’s “The Individual and the State”: http://debs.indstate.edu/i39i5_1918.pdf

Find a Day

Go
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

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!