"Investigate Everything"

Federal Efforts to Ensure Black Loyalty During World War I
Theodore Kornweibel, Jr.
Distribution: World
Publication date: 4/24/2002
ISBN: 978-0-253-10923-1
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Description

Free speech for African Americans during World War I had to be exercised with great caution. The federal government, spurred by a superpatriotic and often alarmed white public, determined to suppress any dissent against the war and require 100% patriotism from the black population. These pressures were applied by America’s modern political intelligence system, which emerged during the war. Its major partners included the Bureau of Investigation (renamed the FBI in 1935); the Military Intelligence Division; and the investigative arms of the Post Office and State departments. Numerous African American individuals and institutions, as well as 'enemy aliens' believed to be undermining black loyalty, became their targets.

Fears that the black population was being subverted by Germans multiplied as the United States entered the war in April 1917. In fact, only a handful of alleged enemy subversives were ever identified, and none were found to have done anything more than tell blacks that they had no good reason to fight, or that Germany would win. Nonetheless, they were punished under wartime legislation which criminalized anti-war advocacy.

Theodore Kornweibel, Jr. reveals that a much greater proportion of blacks was disenchanted with the war than has been previously acknowledged. A considerable number were privately apathetic, while others publically expressed dissatisfaction or opposition to the war.

Kornweibel documents the many forms of suppression used to intimidate African Americans, and contends that these efforts to silence black protest established precedents for further repression of black militancy during the postwar Red Scare.


Author Bio

Theodore Kornweibel, Jr., Professor of African American History in the Africana Studies Department at San Diego State University, is author of No Crystal Stair; In Search of the Promised Land; and "Seeing Red": Federal Campaigns against Black Militancy, 1919—1925 (Indiana University Press, 1998).

Reviews

"Kornweibel's book provides a sound specialized complement to existing broader surveys of WW I repression. . . while amounting to a prequel to his earlier Seeing Red: Federal Campaigns against Black Militancy, 1919–1925 (1998). Well organized and based on massive archival research. . . . Upper-division undergraduates and above." —Choice , January 2003

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Table of Contents

Prologue: "Patriotism and Loyalty Presuppose Protection and Liberty"

Chapter 1. "It became necessary to investigate everything": The Birth of Modern Political Intelligence

Chapter 2. "Very full of the anti-war spirit": Fears of Enemy Subversion during World War I

Chapter 3. "Slackers, Delinquents, and Deserters": African Americans and Draft Enforcement during World War I

Chapter 4. "The most dangerous of all Negro journals": Federal Efforts to Silence the Chicago Defender

Chapter 5. "Every word is loaded with sedition": The Crisis and the NAACP under Suspicion

Chapter 6. "I thank my God for the persecution": The Church of God in Christ under Attack

Chapter 7. "Rabid and inflammatory": Further Attacks on the Pen and Pulpit

Chapter 8. "Spreading enemy propaganda": Alien Enemies, Spies, and Subversives

Chapter 9. "Perhaps you will be shot": Sex, Spies, Science, and the Moens Case

Chapter 10. "Negro Subversion": Army Intelligence Investigations during World War I

Epilogue: "The Negro is 'seeing red'": From the World War into the Red Scare