Chicago Tribune

Measure Provides Drastic Punishment for Disloyal Persons.


Washington, D. C. April 10. — [Special]. — After many days of spirited debate the senate today passed the amendment to the espionage bill, which has bee pronounced in an out of congress as the most drastic sedition law ever proposed in this country.

The measure, earnestly advocated by the department of justice, is designed to expedite punishment for disloyal acts and utterances of unpatriotic citizens and German propagandists in the United States and is aimed also toward drastic punishment of members of the I.W.W. and similar organizations who would condemn the form of government and constitution of the United States.

Punish Loan Foes.

The bill further aims to provide severe punishment for those who interfere or attempt to interfere with war loan campaigns of the government, and for those who support the cause of Germany and her allies in the war.

A fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for twenty years, or both, is proposed under the bill for all offenses included in its provisions.

The most severe section is directed against those who:

"Willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, contemptuous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States," or the constitution, military or naval forces, uniform, or flag of the country.

Allows Just Criticism.

In the closing hours of the debate the bill was qualified against misinterpretation that might lead to the prosecutions of innocent persons through the adoption of an amendment proposed by Senator France of Maryland which provides that nothing in the proposed act shall be construed as "limiting the liberty or impairing the right of any individual to publish or speak what is true, with good motives and for justifiable ends."

An effort by Senator Lodge of Massachusetts to have included a provision barring from the mails publications printed in the German language developed so much opposition that the Massachusetts senator withdrew his amendment which satisfied that power given to the postmaster general to suppress offending publications was sufficient to deal with the situation.

Loyal Germans Favored.

Feeling among the senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, that the Lodge amendment would be a direct slap and insult to loyal Americans of German descent in the United States and thus arouse them to feelings of resentment against the government, prompted the withdrawal of the amendment.

Senator Nelson of Minnesota and Harding of Ohio were particularly emphatic in their opposition to the proposal, maintaining that it would serve to defeat the basic proposes of the bill is that it would stir up animosity against the government where it does not now exist.

The postmaster general is empowered to refuse to deliver mail matter which violates any section of the act and return it to the sender.


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