2006 May 3

Victims of WW I Repression Pardoned in Montana


Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on this day pardoned 79 people who had been convicted in 1918 of sedition under Montana state law because of their opposition to World War I. The pardons came 88 years after they had been convicted, but it was an important symbolic gesture nonetheless.

In the 1920s, the campaign to obtain amnesty for persons convicted under the federal 1917 Espionage and 1918 Sedition Acts was one of the major civil liberties campaigns of the decade. See, for example, April 29, 1922. On the systematic repression of dissent during World War I, see July 3, 1917, and September 3, 1918. On December 23, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally pardoned all of the remained victims of Espionage Act prosecutions still in prison.

The suppression of critics of the government under the 1798 Sedition Act was the first great civil liberties crisis in American history. Learn more about it here.

Learn more at the Montana Sedition Projecthttp://www.seditionproject.net/

Order the film about the Montana cases: Jailed for their Wordshttp://www.seditionproject.net/jailed.html

Learn more: Stephen Kohn, American Political Prisoners: Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts (2004)

Read about the World War I repression: Paul L. Murphy, World War I and the Origins of Civil Liberties in the United States (1979)

Watch a documentary on the Palmer Raids, 1919/1920: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qutgIfhUL7g

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