Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Category: Projects (page 1 of 6)

New PSA’s available from the US World War One Centennial Commission

Last Fall Blair posted about the US  World War One Centennial Commission’s Public Service Announcements (PSA) narrated by Gary Sinise. At that time these were three and seven minutes in length. Recently the commission has released 30 and 60 second PSA’s using the same material, which are being offered as suitable for ” veterans organization web sites, broadcast public service announcements, WWI Commemoration activities and promotion, kiosks, social media sharing and using the audio track, as radio public service announcements”.  You can view and download these here. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: May 1917

It’s May 1917, and the United States has just entered the Great War.  Visiting Allied war leaders ask President Wilson for an immediate commitment of American troops.  General Pershing is named commander of the American Expeditionary Force and departs for Europe.  The United States enacts the first draft law since the Civil War.  Included is a provision authorizing the president to organize volunteer divisions such as the one former President Roosevelt wants to lead, but the President says he will not exercise that authority.  Americans are asked to subscribe to a “Liberty Loan” to finance the war effort.  President Wilson urges press censorship, but a bill giving the president censorship authority fails to pass Congress.  The Allies confront the Central Powers in the Balkans; Italy launches another attack against Austro-Hungarian forces on the Isonzo.  United States Navy warships arrive in Great Britain to assist the British with convoy escort and other duties. ...read more

The Verdict

With the prosecution and defense resting their cases, Judge Pollock issued his instructions to the jury. Unlike Judge Van Valkenburgh in the Missouri trial, Pollock showed no tendency to appeal to the jury to be patriotic and biased towards the defendants. He began by acknowledging that war inflamed passions and prejudices which could sway loyal citizens to impose standards of their own and fix the boundary line of punishable speech at a point which makes all opposition to the war a crime. The judge admonished the jury to decide the case on the “cold, clammy facts.” If the court could try the defendants wholly removed from any thought of the war, “the nearer justice will be done in this case.” ...read more

The Trial of the Topeka Conspirators

Seymour Stedman (Library of Congress)

Following a January 1918 postponement to rule on the double jeopardy motion entered by the members of the Federation for Democratic Control, the trial of the Kansas conspirators began on April 11, 1918 in a federal courtroom in Topeka, Judge John C. Pollock presiding. Fred Felten, having agreed to testify on behalf of the prosecution, escaped indictment. U.S. District Attorney Fred Robertson, handled the prosecution and Seymour Steadman, a socialist attorney from Chicago, headed the defense. ...read more

The Trial of the Federation for Democratic Control

On December 11, 1917, the government opened its case in Kansas City, Missouri against the Moores, Browder and six others also charged with conspiring to obstruct the draft law in that state.   Harvey Kleinschmidt was not indicted having agreed to serve as a witness for the government. Judge A. S. Van Valkenburgh left no doubt the case focused on the issue of patriotism. The constitutional right of free speech, the judge admonished the jury, “cannot be made a cloak for deliberate or intentional lawbreaking.” With scrutiny of First Amendment rights removed, Van Valkenburgh branded the defendants with an image of secrecy and evil plotting, cautioning it was rare that a conspiracy can be proven directly as those who band together to do wrong seldom act openly in such a manner as to furnish direct evidence of their purposes. The prosecution need only show that a conspiracy was not improbable. Likening the soldiers the defendants attempted to dissuade from fulfilling their duty to the “instrumentality of the Almighty,” the judge declared in apocryphal language that should the nation fail to raise an army to protect women and children on foreign shores, it would inevitably have to do so at home. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Ike Gilberg

Long before 1917, Ike Gilberg had earned a reputation as the “leader of Topeka radicalism.”

Born in 1873 in Bialystok, Russia, a major Jewish textile manufacturing center, Gilberg boarded a Red Star liner in 1889 bound for New York City. For whatever reason, Gilberg seemed intent on obfuscating the reason he fled his homeland giving at least three different accounts of what he described as “my feeble attempts to bring on the revolution.” Traveling first to Missouri, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1896, Gilberg arrived in Topeka by 1907, opening a tailor shop in the basement of the Copeland Hotel. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Dr. Eva Harding

Beginning in the early 1880s, Dr. Eva Harding and a small group of women applied their sense of duty to society and in the name of social justice transformed local women’s clubs from their earlier devotion to charity and religion to focus on economic and political equality and social reform. Born in Ohio in 1857, Harding’s family claimed the distinction of being the only in America to boast all three female siblings becoming physicians. In 1882, Harding joined the medical practice of one of her sisters in Atchison, Kansas. Ten years later, she established herself in Topeka, centering her practice on women and children. ...read more

The Topeka Anti-Draft Conspiracy: The Arrests

On May 31, 1917, U.S. District Attorney Fred Robertson issued warrants for the arrest of six Kansans charged with obstructing the operation of the draft law.  In Topeka, federal agents took tailor Ike Gilberg, physician Eva Harding, garage owner Fred Felten, and carpenter Ernest Newman into custody. University of Kansas Professor George Kleihege was arrested in Lawrence and store clerk Earl Browder in Olathe. Also caught in the federal net under warrants issued in Missouri were Federation for Democratic Control members Moore, Warneson and Harvey Kleinschmidt for their anti-conscription agitation in that state. Because of his association with the FDC, authorities transported Browder to Missouri to face legal proceedings. Several weeks later, new charges were brought against the Moores, Kleinschmidt and Browder for their role in the Topeka meeting. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: April 1917

Two events in April 1917 foreshadow the superpower alignment of the remainder of the Twentieth Century: the United States enters the Great War, meaning to make the world safe for democracy, and Lenin returns to Russia, intent on leading a Bolshevik revolution.  In Washington, the President’s request for a declaration of war is the first order of business for the newly elected 65th Congress.  War is declared, the Navy is mobilized, German ships in American ports are seized, and suspected German spies are detained.  Congress authorizes a $7 billion war loan, most of the proceeds marked for the nations already fighting Germany.  The president issues a proclamation to the American people, telling them they must “speak, act and serve together” in support of the war effort.  British and French emissaries visit the United States to participate in an International War Council.  Both houses of Congress enact draft legislation.  On the Western Front, an Anglo-French offensive is launched under the command of General Robert Nivelle, the new Commander-in-Chief of the French Army.  The Canadians capture Vimy Ridge, but the offensive as a whole is a costly failure, ending with mutinies in the French Army and the replacement of Nivelle by General Philippe Petain.  In a journey facilitated by the German government, Lenin travels from Zurich to Petrograd’s Finland Station.  Upon arrival, in what would become known as the April Theses, he calls for the overthrow of Russia’s new Provisional Government. ...read more

DC WW1 Memorial Design Scaled Back

A few days ago the following article appeared in the local newspaper serving Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is the hometown of Joseph Weishaar, the young architect whose design was selected for the National WW1 Memorial to be built in Pershing Park, Washington, DC. ...read more

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