Category Archives: WWI

The New Role of Intelligence Agencies

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Ewald Wever is shown in the 1920 Census

The Bureau of Investigations, later known as the FBI, was a critical tool for the United States in counterintelligence during World War I, especially after the Espionage Act of 1917. This act was used to stop interference with the military, preventing insubordination in the military, and preventing support of the enemies of the United States during the war. Any person who conveyed information that was intended to interfere with the U.S. war effort or promoting the success of enemies was subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. In one famous case, Eugene Debs made a speech criticizing the Espionage Act and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. These acts were stopped around the country by the Bureau of Investigations and one occurrence even happened right here in Suffield. In a declassified report from the Bureau of Investigations, the investigating officers detail this occurrence in Suffield. A fairly successful tobacco farmer of West Suffield, CT, Ewald Wever, discouraged many people in his tobacco warehouse not to buy the second Liberty Loans. He told the people that they would just lose their money because soon the Germans would be ruling over the United States. There were at least two people, who before talking to Mr. Wever, wanted to buy the Liberty Loans, but after talking to Mr. Wever, they decided against doing so because of the way that he talked about them. When Mr. Wever was later asked to buy some Liberty Loans, his response was that he had no money. This was obviously not true since it was well known to everyone around he was a quite wealthy man. Our research so far shows that Mr. Wever had a tendency to be pro-German as he was born in Germany before becoming a United States citizen. Once while in Springfield, MA, Mr. Wever refused to stand for the National Anthem until a fellow resident forced him to stand. Mr. Wever’s actions caught the attention of the FBI thanks to a tip from Charles Bissell, who has a strong connection to the Suffield School. The FBI followed up with Mr. Wever and their desired action is unknown.

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Hartford Courant article talking about a strike at Mr. Wever’s tobacco warehouse. Article date: February 21, 1917

Based on 1920 Census, Mr. Wever lived in West Suffield, CT, was from Germany and was sixty-two years old. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, the tobacco warehouse that Mr. Wever managed was called the “Kaiser & Boasberg plantation,” which consisted of two warehouses, one where the women sort the shade-grown tobacco and the other where the men sort the Havana seed leaf. He lived with his wife and one of his sons and one of his daughters. The family also had a maid who lived with them, which shows that they were financially strong. While doing research on Mr. Wever through Ancestry.com, it was revealed that he had a total of four children with his wife. We continue to research the family of Mr. Wever and are looking to see if there are any direct relatives of him. We will also look into if Mr. Wever and Mr. Bissell were economic rivals, which may have prompted Mr. Bissell to report Mr. Wever. It was known that Mr. Bissell made money in tobacco, therefore this could give him a reason to report Mr. Wever. As we continue to look into new leads, look into acts of espionage in your own town.

Sources:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fbi-founded

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-congress-passes-espionage-act

https://search.proquest.com/docview/556434153?accountid=46995

The Government’s Tight Grip

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 9.34.43 AMMedia censorship was heavily seen in the war effort. The media could only report on a fraction of what actually happened in the war. Once the U.S entered the war, the government began to tighten its hold over what was said to the public. The U.S needed to make sure it could produce enough soldiers for war, and when the draft came out, some were skeptical if everyone would continue to support. If chosen anyone would have to fight and possibly die in war. In order to counter these many anti-war ideas, media sources were either terminated or forced into changing sides to support the war. People who promoted any anti-war ideas were fined heavy amounts and possibly even arrested.

In Connecticut, people could really see a crackdown in Bridgeport. Bridgeport was one of the U. S’s biggest exporters of war, and keeping those workers in the dark about the horrors of war was something the government worried about. The U.S did not directly come out with the idea of censorship but rather tried to use wordy language to try and confuse people to not quite understand what the Government means. This was because it violated the first amendment and was seen in Suffield, Connecticut by the lack of newspaper articles talking about war, and more specifically what was happening overseas.

Wilson had two major concerns. One being the abrupt change to pro-war might lead to some confusion and anger in the population and by silencing the media. The second reason is if the people were told about what was really happening, Wilson feared the people of America would be angry with him. The response he might have endured from the people could crumble the war effort around him. Wilson was so nervous of a possible revolt, he “prepared a bill authorizing the president to censor the press. (Wilson) himself declared this to be absolutely essential.”(Meyer, Source 1) Wilson had to manipulate the American people to get excited about the war by going as far as staging robberies and damaging property. He then claimed the attacks were from the Germans. It got so intense once the war was underway, a man was sent to prison for calling the war foolish. Things like this happened all throughout the war. Once the war was coming to end Wilson’s administration actually liked the idea of media censorship and the tight hold they had on the American people. Luckily this was stopped by the House of Representatives, and this censorship was lifted. This Censorship on the American people also raise an interesting question, “How much of the information we know today about the war was true?”

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These two images portrayed the Germans as beasts and promoted liberty bonds, which directly helped fund the government’s war effort.

Sources:

1: http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/03/that-time-in-wwi-america-when-censorship-was-legal/

This talked directly about Wilson and his plans to continue to censor the media and keep the firm grip the government had on the people even after war.

2: https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/censorship

This gave some background as to what the censorship was and how harsh it became.

3: https://revisionworld.com/gcse-revision/history/world-history/world-war-one-1914-1918/propaganda-censorship

This was more on the shift of the nation and how tight the hold of the government was on the American People.

Connecticut Before and After The Great Migration

During the 1910’s and 1920’s, African Americans participated in the Great Migration, and Connecticut served as a safe area where “Negroes” migrated to after leaving southern areas, such as, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, according to our research. This historic event changed Connecticut’s landscape forever and was etched into history as “The Great Migration.” While Georgia was the main area that most of the African American people migrated from, other states such as Florida and Virginia also saw a large decrease in African American population during this time. Other Caribbean countries like Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands also had populations that were part of the Great Migration as most of their population was dispersed throughout the northern states in the US, with Connecticut being one of the most popular. This information can be tracked by comparing the 1920 US Census to the 1910 US Census. A census is defined as, “an official count or survey of a population, typically recording various details and statistics of all individuals inside the US.” The 1920 census shows a bar graph of the increase of the African American population in the northern and western states between 1910 and 1920. The north saw a 26.6% increase in their African American population as it changed from a mere 16.7% to a whopping 43.3%. The total amount of African American’s in the northern states in 1920 was 1,472,309. Connecticut counted for 21,046 naturally born African American citizens, and the Hartford region alone counted for 4,199 of that total population. The 1920 census does not list individual cities and towns, but instead graphs the regions of the state. This means that all Suffield information and statistics are included in the Hartford region of the bar graphs.

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*Graph from the 1920 census showing the population of Negroes in the Northern states during this time*

Censuses also list other valuable information besides just the populations of specific areas. When government officials are asking for information for the census, they also ask questions like, “What is your average source of income?” Due to the effect of the Great War, Connecticut actually saw a dramatic increase in their salaries and wages between 1914-1919. This was largely due to the fact that industrial changes needed to be made in order to accommodate the production needed for the war. From the information that government officials receive from the census, they are easily able to calculate other valuable information just from the population. For example, they are able to tell the difference in gender varying from state to state. In the US as a whole, there were more female African Americans than there were male African Americans, specifically 5,253,695 people to 5,209,436 people respectively.

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*Graph from the 1920 census showing the population of Negroes in Connecticut regions during this time*

When researching the 1920 census in Suffield, I took the time to target individual people, specifically African Americans who migrated from southern states to Suffield, CT. Two of the people that I found, Virginia Rice and Barbara Jesse, were originally born in Georgia and then migrated to Virginia, before meeting with the same family that claimed them and brought them to Suffield. Interestingly enough, the family that claimed Virginia Rice and Barbara Jesse in 1920 was the headmaster at Suffield Academy, Hobart Truesdell. Virginia Rice is listed as a servant in the 1920 census meaning she worked for the headmaster presumably performing whatever duty for which she was tasked with; perhaps she was a maid. Barbara Jesse is listed as a boarder in the 1920 census, which is strange because a boarder is usually as student and it is uncommon for a student to be living in the headmaster’s house, especially if she was attending the Suffield School. This could be some sort of scholarship type reward or based off a distant family connection to the headmaster. I will continue to investigate her situation more.

Sources:

https://www.archives.gov/research/census/publications-microfilm-catalogs-census/1920

Aviation & Suffield’s WWI Story

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Hartford Courant, September 16, 1917

In 1903 the Wright brothers successfully flew a 21-foot flyer. After this they started creating them more to be used for attacking. The Europeans were the first to fly during World War I, but soon after, the Americans started to launch planes. The people that usually flew the planes were the students from the Ivy Leagues, because once they were drafted they were the ones that usually would be helping fix and manage the planes. For this it was easier for them to fly because they knew how to work the planes. There were more pilots killed in accidents than in combat.

Aviation is brought back to Suffield in World War I, because a student that attended the Suffield School, Bartlett T. Bent, after 3 years went to St. Louis, Missouri to study to become a Lieutenant of the Aviation section of the Signal Officers’ Reserve Corps. He was sent to Missouri after he was just one of 14 that passed a test in Boston to go to this school for aviation. After he left Suffield School after his junior year he went to work at the Traveler’s Agency. He worked there for eight years the went to fly in the Signal Officers’ Reserve Corps in St. Louis. Once he announced his departure from the Traveler’s Agency, he was presented with gifts and given a farewell party from his colleagues in the agency. From this we can see how excited they were to watch Bent move on to such great things. He would be training to fight for his country in World War I. Although we do not know a lot about Bartlett Bent’s life after he left for St. Louis, we know that he lived and that he went to train to fight for his country. We have not found any information on his life after moving to St. Louis.

Source: “The Unsubstantial Air: Telling the Story of American Aviation in WWI.” Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage Daily News, www.adn.com/voices/article/unsubstantial-air-telling-story-american-aviation-wwi/2014/12/27/.

Conservation and Canning on the Homefront

Propaganda poster encouraging those on the Homefront to can and preserve food.

The national movement in preparation for world war one was one of the most interesting transitions in the last one hundred years. One shift was directed by the Committee of Public Information to spread news through propaganda to those on the Homefront. The ability to shift production in such little time is overwhelming and strongly contributes to the success that the United States had in the war. For instance, an entire nation went without meat on Mondays, Wheat on Wednesdays and heat on Fridays for nearly two years. The women on the home front replaced men in the workplace and got their first taste of what it was like to make their own money. http://www.striking-women.org/module/women-and-work/world-war-i-1914-1918. This transition ultimately lead to the women’s rights movement and further to women gaining the right to vote in the early 1920s. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=63

On a more local scale the state of Connecticut did its part in preparation for World War I. The Connecticut river was utilized for its transportation and factories littered its banks. One example is Bridgeport’s Remington Arms. They were responsible for approximately half of the countries small arms cartridges. In addition to a skyrocket in production, the African American population in Connecticut was growing due to ample job openings. Today it can be noticed that some of the north’s current diversity can be traced back to the Great Migration trends in our state that began during World War I. https://connecticuthistory.org/topics-page/world-war-i/ http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/great-migration

The girl’s role at Suffield school while in its military days certainly received the praise it deserved. During its time as a military school the girls of Suffield School took part in conservation, stamp campaigns, and even established the Liberty Chorus, an all-girls singing group that sang at multiple gatherings and events within the school and the rest of Connecticut. (https://www.nhregister.com/connecticut/article/West-Haven-Historical-Society-hosts-open-house-11317021.php).  The Liberty Chorus sang motivational, pro war songs, in hope that they would boost morale at the school and further motivate the boys at Suffield School to go over-seas and fight. They were the cheerleaders of Suffield School during WWI.

In terms of Liberty Stamps, the campaign was a fundraiser that included selling stamps to fund school updates. Back in the early 1900s people wrote letters to one another, so the stamp was quite relevant and in high demand. The stamp campaign helped raise more than $4,800 in only five days. That is equal to approximately $57,920 if the campaign were to be run today. The conservation methods run by the girls of Suffield school were formidable to say the least.

Canning two and a half tons of tomatoes and one thousand six hundred quarts of corn was critical to the rationing effort, and the support from the school farm was certainly important. Some of the boys worked on the farm in the summer to help pay for school, and the farm’s five hundred chickens, thirty pigs, and eight cows was more than enough to feed the 140 students on campus at the time.

 

 

 

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Bring Stubby Home

imagesSergeant Stubby was the official mascot of the 102nd regiment. Stubby was a dog that “served” for 18 months and was involved in or around 17 different battles in Europe. Some of the things that he did were detect mustard gas and comfort wounded soldiers. He was also able to detect incoming artillery fire because he could hear the whine of the incoming shells before the soldiers. Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training.

The 102nd regiment is one of the most famous of the United States from WWI. Many of the members were from Connecticut as the regiment was New England based. They were involved in the first action that the United States was a part of in WWI, which took place in Seicheprey.

There has been a great injustice done however. One would think that Sergeant Stubby would be buried or put on display in his native New Haven, or somewhere nearby in  Connecticut.  Instead, Sergeant Stubby is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in our nation’s capital. This is obviously a great honor, but Sergeant Stubby should be in Connecticut.

Stubby was originally found in Connecticut and that is where he resided before the army found him. The regiment that he joined had many members from Connecticut as well. Stubby’s eventual owner, Robert Conroy, was even from Connecticut. So during this commemorative anniversary of World War I, we must ask ourselves why is Stubby not resting peacefully in his native state? After everything he did for his regiment, he deserves to be returned to home.

Source:

 

Promoting Preparedness and Company Through Adverstising

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The Bell Telephone advertisement showed America’s need to be prepared for the war. Paul Revere shown in the bottom left hand corner was the telephone of his time and informed the public about the invading British soldiers on their way to Lexington and Concord. At the beginning of WWI, Bell is the emerging telephone company, and their add showcases the dominance of their growing company and promotes the political agenda of the preparedness movement in 1916. 

The Bell Telephone advertisement also shows how reliable the telephone is by utilizing the respectability of a US soldier using it. Soldiers were seen as heroes during this time, so when they are shown using this product, citizens will be that much more inclined to use something that their role models use.

The advertisement subtly showed that Bell had complete control over the United States telephone system. The map in the top right hand corner shows the telephone company’s vast network covering the United States. It suggests their dominance by showing the company’s name over the United States.