The Sedition Act of 1918

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"The Road to Peace," 1918. The road to peace was full of trenches, barbed wire, and enemies as shown in this anti-German propaganda poster. Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources via North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

The Sedition Act of 1918 sought to unify support for the United States and its military by forbidding the use of "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces that might cause others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt. The Act remained in effect only when the United States was officially at war.

In a nation that relied on its citizens on the home front to change their lifestyles to support the war effortfrom eating, to working, to volunteeringpatriotism and a unified support for the United States was paramount. Those who dissented from loyalty to the nation by going against the Sedition Act faced prison sentences ranging from five to twenty years.