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“Enemy Aliens” and “Silk Stocking Girls”: The Class Politics of Internment in the Drive for Urban Order during World War I1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 November 2010

Adam Hodges
Affiliation:
University of Houston—Clear Lake

Extract

This article focuses on the two national internment programs developed in the United States during World War I from the vantage point of Portland, Oregon, and argues that they unfolded locally. Both the male enemy aliens at risk of internment and the girls and women who experienced confinement due to sexual activity tended to be poor. Authorities deemed that they were, or were likely to become, radicals or prostitutes—but that they were not to be prosecuted as such. Officials could banish or track them more easily as threats to the war effort, rather than as threats to urban social stability and economic development. Scholars of the home front have ignored the evolution of local-federal partnerships to track or intern these two groups and have so far failed to establish how local perceptions of the dangerous poor shaped cooperation with wartime federal authority.

Type
Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 2007

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References

2 Bert Haney to Thomas Gregory, Jul. 15, 1918, Oregon Historical Society (OHS), mss. 1704 [Portland U.S. Attorney], box 7, vol. 32.

3 On the South during the war, see Federal Power and Southern Resistance during World War I: A Roundtable,” Journal of American History 87 (Mar. 2001): 1335–96Google Scholar.

4 Political scientist Marc Allen Eisner has argued that the federal government engaged in “compensatory state building” during World War 1 to make up for its lack of ability- to administer a national war effort. However, he focused on efforts to append corporate resources and did not address shifts in federalism that redressed the lack of federal-level mobilization capacity. , Eisner, From Warfare State to Welfare State: World War I, Compensatory State Building, and the limits of the Modern Order (University Park, PA, 2000)Google Scholar; Two fine books by William Breen focus on federalism during the war, but they take on the daunting task of attempting to describe federal interaction with every region in the country, and the police powers of the state are largely beyond his scope. , Breen, Uncle Sam at Home: Civilian Mobilisation, Wartime Federalism, and the Council of National Defense, 1917-1919 (Westport, CT, 1984),Google Scholar and Labor Market Politics and the Great War: The Department of Labor, the States, and the First U.S. Employment Service, 1907-1933 (Kent, OH, 1997)Google Scholar.

5 The only study of enemy alien regulations is article-length with a nationwide scope: Nagler, Jörg,c “Victims of the Home Front: Enemy Aliens in the United States during the First World War” in Minorities in Wartime: Nationaland Racial Groupings in Hurope, North America and Australia during the Two World Wars, ed. Panayi, Panikos (New York, 1993), 191215.Google Scholar The most comprehensive survey of the war barely mentions German immigrants at all: Kennedy, David, Over Here: The First World War and American Society (New York, 1980).Google Scholar The classic survey of civil liberties struggles during the war largely ignores enemy aliens: Murphy, Paul, World War I and the Origins of Civil Liberties in the United States (New York, 1979)Google Scholar; and even a study of contemporar y enemy aliens does not examine German Americans during World War I, although nearly half the volume is devoted to historical context: Cole, David, Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism (New York, 2003).Google Scholar A focus on popular rather than systematic federal persecution in the ethnicity literature is evident in the volume, classic John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Natirism, 1860-1925 (New Brunswick, NJ, 1955),Google Scholar and also still in Frank Van Nuys' more recent Americanizing the West: Race, Immigrants, and Citizenship, 1890-1930 (Lawrence, KS, 2002).Google Scholar Two books focusing on German Americans are valuable resources, but make crucial omissions: , FrederickLuebke, Bonds of Loyalty: German Americans and World War I (DeKalb, IL, 1974)Google Scholar did not explore federal manuscripts or delve much into registration, tracking, or internment; Kazal, Russell, Becoming Old Stock: The Paradox of German-American Identity (Princeton, 2004),Google Scholar ignores the centrality of class position in determining the fate of enemy aliens. Most of the limited work on venereal disease internment that does acknowledge class has privileged the role of the federal Commission on Training Camp Activities and ignored the primacy of local initiative: Brandt, Allan M., No Magic Bullet: A Social of Venereal Disease in the United States United States Since 1880 (New York, 1985), ch. 2Google Scholar; Hobson, Barbara Meil, Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition (New York, 1987), ch. 7; andGoogle ScholarBristow, Nancy K., Making Men Moral: Social Engineering during the Great War (New York, 1996)Google Scholar.

6 Annual Report of the Attorney General of the United States (Washington, 1918), 2930;Google ScholarBredbenner, Candice Lewis, A Nationality of Her Own: Women, Marriage, and the Law of Citizenship (Berkeley, 1998), 72Google Scholar.

7 Annual Report of the Attorney General [1918], 2627;Google Scholar On the U.S. anti-German focus, see Luebke, Frederick, Bonds of LoyaltyGoogle Scholar; Neely, Mark E. Jr, The hate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (New York, 1991), 137–38Google Scholar.

8 Connelly, Mark, The Response to Prostitution in the Progressive Era (Chapel Hill, 1980), 136Google Scholar; , Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 77Google Scholar; Divisio n of Venereal Diseases to Oregon Social Hygiene Society, Nov. 25, 1918, 1918-19 folder, file 235.4, box 90, entry 42, RG 90 [U.S. Public Health Service], National Archives [NA], College Park, MD.

9 Schmeckebier, Laurence F., The Public Health Service: Its History, Activities, and Organisation (Baltimore, 1923), 48, 232–34;Google Scholar, Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 88Google Scholar.

10 , Bristow, Making Men Moral, 129.Google Scholar

11 Growth figures from MacColl, E. Kimbark, The Shaping of a City: Business and Politics in Portland, Oregon, 1885 to 1915 (Portland, 1976), 492Google Scholar; shipbuilding figures and Baker quote from Abbott, Carl, Portland: Planning, Politics, and Growth in a Twentieth-Century City (Lincoln, NE, 1983), 7375Google Scholar.

12 OSFL membership from Triplett, Jack Jr, “History of the Oregon Labor Movement Prior to the New Deal” (MA thesis, University of California, 1961), 121; On the strike, seeGoogle ScholarHaydu, Jeffrey, Making American Industry Safe for Democracy: Comparative Perspectives on the Slate and Employee Representation in the Bra of World War I (Urbana, 1997), ch. 4Google Scholar.

13 On the IWW in Portland, see Tyler, Robert L., Rebels of the Woods: 'The l.W.W. in the Pacific Northwest (Eugene, OR, 1967)Google Scholar; for a broader view of IWW successes in the West up to late 1917 and subsequent repression, see Dubofsky, Melvyn, We Shall Be All: si History of the Industrial Workers of the World (1969; Urbana, 1988),Google Scholar ch. 12-18; On the development of a siege mentality in the urban West, see Townshend, John Clendenin, Running the Gauntlet: Cultural Sources of Violence Against the IWW (New York, 1986)Google Scholar; On the IWW and the 1917 lumber strike, see , Tyler, Rebels of the Woods,Google Scholar ch. 4.

14 , MacColl, The Shaping of a City, 3, 13, 6Google Scholar; Myers, Gloria, A Municipal Mother; Portland's Lola Greene Baldwin, America's First Policewoman (Corvallis, OR, 1995), 102–07Google Scholar.

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16 On the dislocation caused by the ban, see , Nagler, “Victims of the Home Front,” 198201;Google Scholar Clarence Reames to Thomas Gregory, June 9, 1917, OHS, mss. 1704, box 6, vol. 30; Merriam, Paul, “The ‘Other Portland’: A Statistical Note on Foreign-Born, 1860-1910,” Oregon Historical Quarterly (Fall 1979): 266–67;Google ScholarMacColl, E. Kimbark, The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon, 1915 to 1950 (Portland, 1979), 143Google Scholar.

17 Annual Report of the Attorney General of the United States [1918], 3233;Google Scholar“Where's Your Badge?” Heave Together, Feb. 1, 1918, p. 3.Google ScholarHeave Together was the wartime employee magazine ot Northwest Steel in Portland.

18 Elmon Geneste to Senator George Chamberlain, Jan. 7, 1918, file 124678, reel 510, “Old German Files, 1915-20,” RG 65, Bureau of Investigation, NA—College Park; Report of Elton Watkins, Jan. 18, 1918, file 43436, reel 394.

19 Report of H.P. Malone, Dec. 6, 1917, file 43436, reel 394, “Old German Files,” RG 65, NA—College Park; Newspaper clipping, July 17, 1918, folder 2031, box 10, RG 165, War Department General and Special Staffs, National Archives [NA], Seattle.

20 Newspaper clippings, Feb. 9-10 and Mar. 7, 14, 1918, folder 2154, box 14, RG 165, NA–Seattle; on seasonal workers, the IWW, and city government in Portland, see Hoffman, Dennis and Webb, Vincent, “Police Response to Labor Radicalism in Pordand and Seattle, 1913-19,” Oregon Historical Quarterly (Winter 1986): 341–66;Google Scholar on male migrant workers in this period, see Higbie, Frank Tobias, Indispensable Outcasts: Hobo Workers and Community in the American Midwest, 1880-1930 (Urbana, 2003)Google Scholar.

21 On the North End, see Boag, Peter, Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest (Berkeley, 2003), 6273Google Scholar.

22 The patterns of decision-making in the Portland U.S. attorney's office are clear from the complete record of correspondence to the attorney general (OHS, mss. 1704), which provides a biography of each interviewee and justification for recommending internment or parole in each case.

23 Portland U.S. Attorney, OHS, mss. 1704, box 7, vol. 33. Also, Reames to Gregory, Jan. 10, 1918, vol. 31, and Haney to Gregory, Apr. 5, 1918, vol. 32, in box 7.

24 Haney to Gregory, Aug. 30 and Nov. 8, 1918, OHS, mss. 1704, box 7, vol. 33.

25 Haney to Gregory, Aug. 31, 1918, OHS, mss. 1704, box 7, vol. 33; Reames to Gregory, Aug. 7 and Sept. 14, 1917, OHS, mss. 1704, box 6, vol. 30.

26 Reames to Gregory, Sep. 20, 24, and Oct. 11, 18, 1917, OHS, mss.1704, box 6, vol. 30; Haney to Gregory, Mar. 22, 1918, box 7, vol. 32; Reports of problems with German newspapers in Portland appear up to Haney to Gregory, Mar. 29, 1918, box 7, vol. 32.

257 Reames to Gregory, Aug. 13, 1917, OHS, mss. 1704, box 6, vol. 30; Nagler, “Victims of the Home Front,” 212.

28 Haney to Gregory, Mar. 30, 1918, OHS, mss. 1704, box 7, vol. 32; Rankin to Gregory, Feb. 11, 1918, vol. 31.

29 Haney to Gregory, Jun. 7, 1918, OHS, mss. 1704, box 7, vol. 32.

30 Reames to Gregory, Aug. 6, 1917, OHS, mss. 1704, box 6, vol. 30.

31 Reames to Gregory, June 14 and July 10, 1917, OHS, mss. 1704, box 6, vol. 30; Newspaper clipping, Feb. 27, 1918, folder 2112, box 11, RG 165, NA—Seattle.

32 Portland Oregonian, May 16, 1920,Google Scholar Magazine Section, pp. 1, 7.

33 Division of Venereal Diseases to Oregon Social Hygiene Society, Nov. 25, 1918, file 235.4, folder “1918-19,” box 90, entry 42, RG 90, NA—College Park; David Robinson to George Baker, Oct. 11, 1920, Robinson to Baker, Jan. 25, 1921, file 235.7, folder “1921”; Rupert Blue to Baker, Aug. 28, 1919, folder “1918-19.”

34 , Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 88Google Scholar; Robinson to [?], Nov. 17, 1917, and Ordinance for the Control of Venereal Diseases, Nov. 23, 1917, folder “Oregon,” box 313, entry 42, RG 90, NA—College Park.

35 Ordinance for the Control of Venereal Diseases.

36 EJ. Cummins to [?], Dec. 3, 1917, folder“Oregon,” box 313, entry 42, RG 90, NA—College Park; Senior Surgeon to Surgeon General, May 14, 1918, folder “1918-19,” file 235.7, box 90; Surgeon [Seattle] to Surgeon General, Sept. 9, 1918, folder “1918-19,” file 235.3. DeLo Mook to Surgeon General, Nov. 26, 1918, file 250.1, box 411, entry 31, RG 112, Surgeon General (Army), NA—College Park.

37 , Mycrs, A Municipal Mother, 130–31;Google Scholar Ordinance No. 33649, Jan. 2, 1918, folder “Oregon,” box 313, entry 42, RG 90, NA—College Park; Allison French to William Snow, Feb. 12, 1918, file 250.1, box 350, entry 31, RG 112,”NA—College Park.

38 Attendance figure from , Abbott, Portland: Planning Politics and Growth, 44Google Scholar; Portland Oregonian clipping, Jan. 14, 1912,Google Scholar PPHS, Lola G. Baldwin Papers, folder “Misc. Letters and Newsclippings”; on the origins of the OSHS, see , Myers, A Municipal Mother, 7Google Scholar.

39 Report of War Work Council, Feb. 21, 1918, OHS, mss. 1541, Oregon Social Hygiene Society, vol. 7; Report of Committee on Cedars, Sept. 1918; To the Pastors of Oregon Churches, Mar. 12, 1918; To the Parents of Portland, Sept. 26, 1919, mss. 1541, vol. 8.

40 The parole records are spread chronologically through vols. 7-9, OHS, mss. 1541; Case No. 11, The Cedars Report, Aug. 30, 1918, and Case No. 28, OHS, mss. 1541, vol. 7.

41 The Cedars Report, Sept. 13, 1918, and Case No. 6, July 19, 1918, OHS, mss. 1541, vol. 7.

42 The Cedars Report, Aug. 16, 1918, OHS, mss. 1541, vol. 7; Case No. 88, June 20, 1919, and Case No. 63, Aug. 8, 1919, OHS, mss. 1541, vol. 8; Hill, Joseph A., Women in Gainful Occupations, 1870-1920 (Washington, 1929), 33Google Scholar.

43 Portland Oregonian, May 16, 1920,Google Scholar Magazine Section, pp. 1, 7. A.C. Scely to Surgeon General, Dec. 3, 1918, file 235.8, folder “1918-19,” box 90, entry 42, RG 90; and Detention Hospital Record, file 235.4, folder “1918-19,” NA—College Park.

44 Roberg to Surgeon General, Jan. 24, 1920, folder “1920,” file 235.4, box 90, entry 42, RG 90; Report of the Pacific Coast Rescue and Protective Society for 1919, folder “Oregon.” box 313, entry 42, RG 90, NA—College Park. Freedman, Estelle, Their Sisters'Keepers: Women's Prison Reform'in America, 1830-1930 (Ann Arbor, 1981), 147–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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48 Resolution No. 11356, Apr. 14, 1920, folder “1920,” file 235.7, box 90, entry 42, RG 90, NA—College Park. Pivar, David, “Cleansing the Nation: The War on Prostitution, 1917-21,” Prologue 12 (Spring 1980): 38, 40Google ScholarPubMed; , PHS, Venereal Disease Ordinances, V.D. Bulletin no. 39 (Washington, 1919), OHS, mss. 1541, vol. 18Google Scholar.

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50 Baldwin, , Annual Report to Mayor and Chief of Police, Feb. 6, 1922, PPHS, Lola G. Baldwin Papers, folder “Lola Baldwin.”,Google Scholar

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“Enemy Aliens” and “Silk Stocking Girls”: The Class Politics of Internment in the Drive for Urban Order during World War I1
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