How were civil liberties restricted during the World War I?
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Civil liberties were restricted in World War I through laws passed by Congress. The two most important of these were the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. What these laws did was essentially to ban criticism of a variety of government activities. The laws were aimed at suppressing any dissent against the war. In order to do this, these laws did such things as banning any speech that was disloyal or that would cause people to view the government with contempt. These were very broad restrictions on civil liberties, particularly given the fact that people violating them could be punished by imprisonment.
Civil liberties were seriously stifled during World War 1 and this was because the government was out to legitimize their engagement in the war against the Germans. The government’s action was geared towards garnering the citizens’ support both willingly and unwillingly. As mentioned above the Sedition Act of 1798 and the Espionage Act of 1917 sought to curtail civil rights as protected by the constitution. This was done to ensure that no individual or group would interfere with the enlistment program and the American war efforts. The government also took this opportunity to pursue individuals who were deemed enemies of the state. The Acts also ensured that criticism and dissent by the public was heavily restricted and declared as crimes that were punishable by heavy fines or long term imprisonment.
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