Civil Liberties During WWI

Contributor: Sarah Lerdal. Lesson ID: 11030

War threatens each part of life, including civil liberties, rights granted to citizens by the Constitution. Is it right and fair for government to limit rights for the sake of safety? Read and decide!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Civil liberties are certain rights protected by law, usually guaranteeing safeguard against a governing body.

  • During times of war, should Americans be willing to give up some civil liberties?

During wars prior to and since WWI, laws have been passed that curb Americans' civil liberties. While the government has not shied away from restricting individual rights during wartime, many Americans question if some of these laws are unconstitutional.

Shortly after the United States entered WWI, Congress passed the Espionage Act.

  • Now, study this piece of WWI propaganda and explain how it supports what you know about the Espionage and Sedition Acts:

Don't talk poster

Image from Walker Lith. & Pub. Co. Boston, via the Boston Public Library on Flickr, is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.

Political cartoons were also often used to express favor for, or concerns regarding, a current action.

If laws appear to be unfair, what, if anything, can a regular citizen do?

One choice is to challenge the law and hope the courts rule in your favor. Think of a current law that you feel is unfair or that should be altered. Think about how you would present your appeal to the courts.

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