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World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States (Norton Essays in American History) Paperback – December 1, 1979


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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Essays in American History
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 1, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393950123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393950120
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,492,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on February 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In spite of entering the First World War pledging to make the world "safe for democracy," the administration of President Woodrow Wilson pursued the war at home with measures that dramatically restricted the rights of American citizens. Speech was curtailed, people were arrested without due process, and homes and businesses were searched without warrants, all in the name of the wartime emergency. Paul Murphy makes this campaign and the response it engendered the subject of this book, an excellent short study of the war's impact on civil liberties.

With America's entry into the war in April 1917, the Wilson administration secured the passage of emergency wartime measures designed to control domestic opposition to the war effort. These laws were onerous, but were presented as temporary measures necessary to achieve victory. In many ways this embodied what Murphy sees as the traditional view of civil liberties that predominated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which argued that only those who had "proved" that they could use their civil liberties in the right way deserved to have them protected - a view that excluded minorities, aliens, and people advocating radical ideas. That the federal government was now being employed to restrain civil liberties, Murphy argues, reflected the Progressivism of the era, as paternalistic attitudes which before the war had sought to use the federal government to address social problems now viewed it as a means of ensuring support for the war.

Murphy goes on to depict the enforcement of the laws, an enforcement that was often characterized by zealousness. Though many officials used discretion in implementing the measures, others treated it as a tool for harassing groups seen as unpatriotic or unrepresentative of American values.
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World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States (Norton Essays in American History)
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