Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Don't ever let them tell you a history professor can't make a difference...

In 1918, 79 Montanans were convicted of sedition and imprisoned for high crimes like criticizing wartime food regulations. This was part of the wave of opportunistic repression undertaken by the Wilson Administration and various western state governments, who saw wartime paranoia as an opportunity to break unions. And they were successful.

And Clemens P. Work, director of graduate studies at the University of Montana School of Journalism, wrote a book called "Darkest Before Dawn: Sedition and Free Speech in the American West". And Jeffrey Renz's law students took on the case as a petition for pardon.

And now, 88 years later, the Governor of Montana, descendent of German immigrants, is issuing pardons, and some folks affected are coming for the ceremony:

Marie Van Middlesworth, the 90-year-old daughter of one of those convicted, Fay Rumsey, will be coming from Medford, Ore. She was among 12 children put up for adoption when the family farm failed after her father was imprisoned.
Jesus. We never learn, do we? 88 years later we say "Oops, I'm sorry."

That don't cut it.

No comments: