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at another, would distort the actual and make the inquiry valueless, has resorted to a method that is as nearly pure description as possible. The choice of words, except in a few cases of obviously impolitic measures, has been made with a view to colorlessness--with the hope that clarity might attend. It has been necessary that he appeal to authority-but he has endeavored to make his choices competently. There are, no doubt, important measures and occurrences in the development of the status of the liberty of public discussion in the last century which have been omitted, but no effort has been spared to accost and apprehend those which promised pertinacy.
It seems apparent that changes have occurred in what is traditionally the American standard of liberty of thought and speech. Surely the bumpkin country of a century back looked with more favor on public discussion, even if that discussion were dangerous to the government, than does the buxom land in which we dwell today. When one considers the radical remarks of Jefferson and his confreres of Revolutionary days, the intense and indignant attack on the Alien and Sedition laws of 1798, the freedom and abandon of incisive critics in the war periods of 1812-14, 1846-47, 1861-65, and compares the easygoing toleration of those governments, restrained of course by public opinion, with the frantic laws to punish radicals, prohibit red flags, exclude anarchists, and secure the government, it is plain to the most conservative inquirer that the re has been a wide swing in the American policy of the liberty of public discussion--and that the arc does not bend to the left!
FEDERAL LAWS ABRIDGING CIVIL LIBERTIES
The Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917, was
enforced by an admirably planned system of civilian aid.
In reference to the success of the enforcement of the Act 1
John Lord O'Brian said: "No anti-draft propaganda had the slightest chance of success". The government not only had this civilian organization for reaching men who were liable to registration but also had at hand several criminal statutes dating from the Civil War. These statutes the govern
ment used to punish conspiracies to resist recruiting and conscription by riots and other forcible means, and to punish speeches and publications inducing men to evade the draft. These statutes were felt to be inadequate however. The recollection of the doings of the Copperheads in Civil War times and the knowledge of the German spy system and the measure taken to curb it in Great Britain and Canada brought the government to the point of enacting legislation covering opposition to the war more completely.
The Espionage Acts of 1917 and 1918
The Espionage Acts were the result of the movement
for more complete government control of opposition to the war. The third section of Title I of the Espionage Act of 1917 was calculated to embrace acts in opposition to the war which could not be punished under existing Federal laws. This Act 1. "Civil Liberty in War Time", 42 Rep. N. Y. State Bar Ass. (1919) p. 275.