Letter from Hooper Alexander, U.S. Attorney, to the Attorney General, 3/15/1918
General Records of the Department of Justice. National Archives Identifier: 6120950
During World War I, espionage and sedition acts were adopted that resulted in nearly 1,000 convictions. The Espionage Act of June 15, 1917 defined espionage and, in section 12, denied the use of the mails to newspapers, periodicals, and other materials that were unpatriotic, critical, or treasonous. Many publications were scrutinized. Justice Department officials investigated The Finished Mystery, a pacifist book published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and warned bookstores and newsstands in Atlanta against carrying it. On March 14, 1918, the Attorney General telegraphed Hooper Alexander, the U.S. Attorney for Atlanta, to enforce the book ban. Alexander replied the next day that he would give warning to any sellers who had copies of the book.
For #BannedBooksWeek and author Upton Sinclair’s 135th birthday (belated!), born September 20, 1878.
In honor of Banned Books Week, here’s a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt from Upton Sinclair, whose novel “The Jungle” has been banned in banned in Yugoslavia, East Germany, South Korea, and Boston.
In this letter, Sinclair wrote to President Roosevelt, supported the presence of federal inspectors in the meat-packing houses.
He advised that inspectors should come disguised as workingmen to discover the true conditions, as Sinclair did when he researched his book “The Jungle.”
(PS: Best to avoid reading this at mealtimes.)