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Civil Liberties

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  • December 2011
  • 313 Words
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Civil liberties were undermined during WWI to the government’s satisfaction. The government passed multiple laws to establish civil liberties to be weakened. I believe it was an important decision made by Wilson.

The United States joined World War 1 on April 6, 1917. Two months later, Congress passed the Espionage Act, which incorporated the death penalty. This Act arranged the law to make it a crime for Americans to speak against their government’s war effort, to influence disloyalty, or instigate men to inhibit the draft. The Espionage Act did obtain “holes”. As a result, Congress enacted the Sedition Act of 1918 one year later, which amended the Espionage Act to enhance the postmaster general's powers. This more restrictive Sedition Act outlawed disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language against the flag, the Constitution, and even the uniform of the armed forces. Citizens who persevered to speak against the war could face heavy fines and jail sentences of up to twenty years.

Every one has their own opinion and the two acts put in place may have upset many citizens. Citizens could have felt betrayed by their own nation and feel the need to protest. Which could have led to a riot and then to a revolution.

If the government did not sign off on the Espionage and Sedition Acts, then there could have been pandemonium. The non-existence of the Espionage Act could allow people to have the full use of free speech without breaking a law. Then citizens would be allowed to reveal secrets to our newspapers which a rival will in all likelihood see. These secrets can and will be used against the United States, which will likely lead to many casualties. By limiting Freedom of movement, it allows the United States to know where you are and could possibly know if people are plotting against the government.

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