Tag 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, he 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

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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

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant 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.

440px-Sergeant_StubbyThe 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.

Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training. The dog hung around the soldiers and one soldier (Robert Conroy) liked him so he snuck him on board the ship heading for Europe.

Stubby was injured two times during the war but both times he recovered. Stubby had numerous war-time achievements that ultimately led to medals. There is a famous instance where Stubby helped capture a German spy. This led to Stubby’s “promotion” to Sergeant. Stubby was highly celebrated following the war and went on to receive a Gold Medal from the Humane Education Society.

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.

Stopping the Elusive Germans On the Homefront

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Secret Service agents walking aside President Woodrow Wilson

I continue to explore the role of federal agencies in stopping pro-German attacks against the United States during the war. The Secret Service was crucial in stopping German spies from roaming around the United States and collecting information. In one case, a Secret Service agent was tailing a known German spy, and the spy had a left a briefcase on a bus. This briefcase was opened and contained many documents showing Germany’s efforts to stop America’s support to the Allies. The Secret Service played a vital role in finding German spies and foiling their plans against the United States.

The Bureau of Investigations (later known as the FBI) worked on many aspects including citizens antiwar sentiments. During the start of the war, they were told to keep their investigations into Germans limited because of the federal laws at the time. This changed through the years of 1914-1917 as the U.S. was getting ready to enter the war. They were involved in a few German cases including one in 1914 where there was a ring that was trying to obtain passports for German reservists that were in the U.S. when the war started. There was another case in 1915 where there was a plot to blow up the Welland Canal, which was a critical shipping point between Lake Erie and Ontario. The Bureau was able to break up this plot and arrested several people connected to the plot. They were also able to connect one of the men to the earlier documents from the Secret Service case with the briefcase. During the early years of the war, there were many sabotage attempts against British-owned firms and factories that supplied ammunition to Britain and Russia that were broken up by the Bureau of Investigations.  In 1916, the Bureau of Investigations officially began a counterintelligence policy.

These early efforts that the Secret Service and Bureau of Investigations unfolded showed Germany’s plots against the U.S. and was a contributing factor in convincing the United States to enter the War. Now that the United States has entered the war, I am going to dig deeper to see what the Secret Service and Bureau of Investigations did inside of the United States during the war. My plan will be to contact the FBI to find more information on their role during WWI.

Sources:

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/the-bureaus-role-during-early-world-war-i-years

This source comes directly from the FBI, which means it is a reliable source for information on the early years of the FBI during World War I.

 

https://www.cia.gov/kids-page/6-12th-grade/operation-history/history-of-american-intelligence.html#catching-up-over-there

This source comes from the CIA talking about the early years of spying and the impact that different federal agencies had on World War I inside of the United States.