Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Defense for Sedition: The Role of Ethos in the Cases of Eugene V. Debs and Scott Nearing, 1919

Speaker, Jennifer Adams.  Tuesday, October 8, 2013, at 11:30 am in the Union Building, room 231/232.

Between 1918 and 1920, known colloquially as the Red Scare, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his special assistant J. Edgar Hoover used the Espionage Act of 1917 to arrest large numbers of leftist radicals and organizations. Overall, more than 1500 citizens were arrested and tried for sedition during these years, and the vast majority of these individuals were found guilty and prosecuted for their words. Included among those individuals was four-time presidential nominee for the Socialist Party, Eugene V. Debs as well as a well known former economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Scott Nearing. In this presentation, I explore the different ways these two defendants constructed ethos in self-authored statements read to the jury in their defense against federal charges of sedition. 


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