1918 September 3

“Slacker Raids” in New York Round up 10,000


“Slacker Raids” during World War I were a series of mass round-ups of young men suspected of evading the draft. On this day, 10,000 young men were rounded up in New York City alone. (See the earlier “slacker raids” on July 3, 1917.) The raids were conducted by members of the American Protective League (APL) and were marked by a total lack of due process, as men were seized on the street on the basis of no evidence other than someone’s suspicion.

The APL was a private organization of citizens that had been given quasi-law enforcement powers by the Justice Department, with President Woodrow Wilson’s approval, on June 4, 1917. In addition to this quasi-official organization, private vigilantes acting on their own perpetrated innumerable attacks on anti-war activists or people suspected of being pro-German. See for example the kidnapping of Rev. Herbert Bigelow near Cincinnati on October 28, 1917.

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

Learn more; some American Protective League documents: http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/biltmore_industries/05_political/bi_05_american_protective_league/default_protective_league.htm

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