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State Historical Society of Iowa

Babel Proclamation, May 1918

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Courtesy of State Historical Society of Iowa, Harding, William, "Babel Proclamation," 4 December 1918


The Babel Proclamation was issued by Iowa's Governor William L. Harding. He took the anti-German sentiment in the wake of World War I further than any other state. The proclamation said, "Only English was legal in public or private schools, in public conversations, on trains, over the telephone, at all meetings, and in all religious services." 

Transcript of the Babel Proclamation 

Source-Dependent Questions

  • What were the arguments Governor William Harding used to justify the restriction of language under the Babel Proclamation? Do you agree or disagree with Harding’s arguments considering the historical context? Use evidence to support your answer.
  • Compare the last paragraph of the proclamation to the rest of the document. Did this proclamation demonstrate that Iowa was welcoming toward immigrants? Use evidence to support your answer.