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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 166860 Find in a Library
Title: Civil Liberties and the Law: California During the First World War (From Law, Society, and the State: Essays in Modern Legal History, P 243-262, 1995, Louis A Knafla and Susan W S Binnie, eds. -- See NCJ-166852)
Author(s): D M T North
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: University of Toronto Press
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2W8, Canada
Sale Source: University of Toronto Press
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Suite 700
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2W8,
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: This paper examines the climate of public attitudes in America during World War I, particularly in California, and how this was manifested in restrictions on civil liberties in California.
Abstract: In addition to stimulating patriotic nationalism and uniting many Californians in a common humanitarian and political direction, an amalgam of characteristics peculiar to California, together with the extraordinary changes brought about by the First World War, combined to create a political culture in which distrust of dissent and State repression of radicalism would increasingly appear to be the rule rather than the exception. The First World War changed the dynamics of life in modern California. By permitting infringements on free speech and the press, by restricting and denying freedom of assembly and association, and by circumscribing due process, Federal, State, and local governments, with the cooperation of the majority of citizens, undermined civil liberties and initiated coercive measures and intrusive, often inept habits of bureaucratic behavior that persist today. The State sanctioned vigilantism and a reckless disregard for the truth and turned citizens against each other by co-opting members of certain patriotic organizations as enforcers of wartime measures. The demands of the war on California's people and resources dampened the formerly successful efforts of early 20th-century progressive era reforms and pointed out the limits of those reform activities, because Progressives in California dramatized class and race divisions in American society. The strident call for internal security played itself out in attacks on non-conforming radicals, on those who questioned or threatened the prevailing power structure, and on Asian-Americans and other racial and ethnic groups, rather than in concerns about the dangers of ultraconservative patriots or the loss of individual liberty. 37 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): California; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Jurisprudence; Sociology of law
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