U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

American Political Prisoners: Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts

NCJ Number
S M Kohn
Date Published
229 pages
This book examines how the Federal Government used antisedition laws to suppress thousands of American dissidents, antiwar activists, Socialists, trade union leaders, and pacifists from 1917 to 1932.
The first major section of the book chronicles the history and application of the laws used to imprison anyone solely on the basis of religious or political belief. These laws, many of which remain on the statute books, constitute an overt and serious threat to freedom of thought and expression. The fact that they were systematically used in the past and their constitutionality was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court speaks to the potential for their misuse in the future. The second part of the book documents the prison life of the political prisoners. It is based on the actual words of the prisoners, their families, prison guards, prison doctors, and the warden of Leavenworth Penitentiary, culled from prison records. The third major section of the book documents the hundreds of union leaders, antiwar activists, Socialists, and other dissidents rounded up and arrested under the sedition laws. Information addresses who was arrested, where they resided, what they believed, how long they were imprisoned, and how they were treated in prison. Chapter notes, a selected 112-item bibliography, and a subject index


No download available