The Sedition Act of 1918
Digital History ID 3903
The Sedition Act of 1918 was an amended piece of legislation that strengthened the terms of the Espionage Act of 1917. The Espionage Act targeted those individuals who interfered with the draft and who publicly criticized the government.
More than 2,000 people were prosecuted under the original and amended Espionage Act, including the Socialist spokesman and draft opponent, Eugene V. Debs, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Both the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act were repealed in 1921.
A portion of the amendment to Section 3 of the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917.
The revised law provided in part:
Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports, or false statements, ...or incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct ...the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, or ...shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States ...or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully ...urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production ...or advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both....
Source: United States, Statutes at Large, Washington, D.C., 1918, Vol. XL, pp 553 ff.
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