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"It is necessary that academic men, those in the colleges and universities, take some action in regards to the 34 men who are now languishing in prison for merely speaking their mind during and following the war," said Professor Harry F. Ward g. '98 of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City in an interview recently after his address at the old South Church on "The Future of Private Property".
"Labor has done all it can," he continued," to free these men who are suffering a prison term because of using their right of freedom of speech, a principle which every college or academic man maintains to be sound. These men have been placed in prison during and following the war under the Espionage Act of Congress and are doomed to serve five to twenty-year terms unless some power greater than that now exerted takes hold.
"These men were usually thrown into Leavenworth penitentiary without trial by jury, usually on the basis of the sedition laws alone and often because the man was simply a member of the International Workers of the World organization. Senator George W. Pepper of Pennsylvania, who is certainly no radical on the subject and who has investigated the several causes for these men be placed under arrest, has stated that he could find no legal justification of their apprehension by the law.
"I am personally acquainted with a man who was working in a war production plan in New England and who, for certain remarks he made, was indicted. He went to his employer, stated that he had better get his time card and await arrest, and he found that his employer refused to relinquish his services until the moment of his arrest.
"Of the 34 men now serving terms, all of these could have obtained their freedom under a post war act of President Harding, but inasmuch as this act required that each man acknowledge the guilt of what he had said or done, each preferred to stand by his principles and serve his term.
"The point I am trying to emphasize is that, since the war, the United States has developed through legislation the machinery which prevents free speech. Much of the danger to free speech has been removed by a repeal of the Espion-age Act, but the power of the postmaster general to censor what passes through the mails is still great and is used freely.
"What Congress will not do, the states have done in their anarchy laws, which penalize free expression. The laws are further re-enforced by the injunction, which in the state of California is sufficient to throw a member of the I. W. W. organization into jail without any defense whatever.
"The time has come when the academic man must exert his influence to put an end to the repression of those things which he believes in, and for which many men suffer."
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