Yielding our freedoms: The afterpiece

This series has focused on how actions by the South Dakota Council of Defense during World War I flouted both freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Yet it’s easy to have nearly 100 years of hindsight. I’m not denouncing everything the Council and its members did. They undoubtedly were doing what they thought best […]

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Yielding our freedoms: Ending the Hutterite threat

Most of the posts in this series have focused on the activities of the South Dakota Council of Defense. But it had no inherent mechanism to enforce its legal authority. When “the Russian colonist problem” brought the Council in conflict with religious principles, it turned to the courts, often considered the last bastion for the […]

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Yielding our freedoms: The ‘Russian Colonist’ menace

One of the issues the South Dakota Council of Defense devoted “considerable time” to during its World War I existence was what it called the “Russian Colonist problem.” Evidently, these outsiders claimed their religious convictions forbid participating in or supporting a war. Given the U.S. was at war with Germany, though, the Council said such […]

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Yielding our freedoms: Deutsche verboten

Words can be dangerous. You know, “the pen is mightier than the sword” and all that. But entire languages? During World War I, plenty of people thought speaking German was anti-American. Many states, including South Dakota, thought it so unpatriotic that they banned the language.

As I noted previously, the South Dakota Council of Defense […]

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Yielding our freedoms: Meet the State Council of Defense

As noted in the last post, concern about American “preparedness” after the First World War started led to a variety of government action. One was the formation of the Council of National Defense, which was to coordinate industries and resources “for the national security and welfare.”

Although created in August 1916, the Council wasn’t […]

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Yielding our freedoms: World War I edition

When assailed or even criticized by others, we Americans proudly trumpet the rights granted us by the Constitution. One of the most explicit examples in recent history was George W. Bush’s speech to Congress following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Speaking of terrorist groups, Bush said, “They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, […]

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