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Espionage Act of 1917, June 15, 1917

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Courtesy of Library of Congress, 15 June 1917


The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed two months after America’s entrance into World War I. It was, “An act to punish acts of interference with the foreign relations, the neutrality and the foreign commerce of the United States, to punish espionage, and better to enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and for other purposes.” It was intended to prohibit interference with military operations or recruitment, to prevent insubordination in the military and to prevent the support of United States enemies during wartime.

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Source-Dependent Questions

  • Does the Espionage Act pose any threat to the rights and liberties of American citizens? Use specific evidence from the text to support your claim?
  • Refer to the “This Must Not Be!” cartoon in relation to the document. Did the Espionage Act actually suppress liberty?

Citation Information 

"Espionage Act of 1917," 15 June 1917. Courtesy of Library of Congress