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Civil Liberties and the Great War at the Hjemkomst Center
Tue Sep 17, 2019, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Civil Liberties and the Great War
Tuesday, September 17, 6:00PM – 7:30PM
Join us for a free, local history exploring civil liberties during World War I from HCSCC Senior Archivist Mark Peihl. The lecture is offered with free admission in support of our current exhibition of “War, Flu, and Fear: World War I & Clay County” and in celebration of Welcoming Week and the efforts of Welcoming FM.
World War I was a trying time for civil liberties in the United States. The passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918 was used to silence and imprison critics of an unpopular war, while state legal bodies and local political groups resorted to intimidation, alienation, and occasional mob violence in their efforts to stifle dissent. Many historians see this wave of repressive acts culminating in the Palmer Raids, which directly influenced the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920.
On the local front xenophobia, anti-German sentiment, and fears of labor unions and radicals reached a fever pitch. These fears took shape in acts of mob violence and the creation of the Minnesota Public Safety Commission, a watchdog group that exerted tremendous powers in the state, suspending civil liberties and presiding over what University of Minnesota historian Hy Berman described as “a reign of terror.”
Admission is free. The lecture will be held in the Hjemkomst Center’s Heritage Theater.