The Long Arm of the Lawless

From the declaration of war on April 6, 1917 to the November 11, 1918 Armistice U.S. Marshals:

Investigated 222,768 violations of the selective service laws;
Registered 480,000 German enemy aliens;
Issued 200,000 permits to enemy aliens;
Arrested 6,300 enemy aliens under Presidential Arrest Warrants;
Interviewed 2,300 enemy aliens in military camps; and
Guarded restricted areas around docks, ammunitions factories, military camps, and sensitive areas.

March 27, 1917  Cooperate with local police; take precautions against hostile acts.
April 6, 1917  War declared. Warn Germans to “Obey the law.”
April 10, 1917  Advise Germans to surrender all weapons, explosives, and radios; arrest any who do not.
April 16, 1917 Arrest specified enemy aliens and turn them over to War Department for internment.
April 20, 1917  Establish restricted zones around docks, factories, arsenals, etc.; issue passes to specified enemy aliens.
May 23, 1917  Marshals and their Deputies have sole authority to arrest enemy aliens.
May 29, 1917  Protect Selective Service centers; arrest draft evaders or those disrupting selective service.
June 18, 1917 Complete issuance of passes to enter restricted zones and arrest draft resistors by June 30.
July 18, 1917  Locate possible places of detention for large numbers of enemy aliens.
October 8, 1917  Arrest military deserters; assist Bureau of Investigation in locating deserters.
November 28, 1917  Remove all enemy aliens from Washington. D.C. and report their arrival in other districts.
December 1, 1917  Arrest all draft dodgers under new Selective Service regulations.
December 17, 1917  Apply enemy alien regulations to citizens of Austria-Hungary.
December 26, 1917  Arrange for registration of all male Germans in cities over 5,000.
December 29, 1917  Prevent possible sabotage to docks and wharves by putting grates over nearby sewers.
December 29, 1917  Begin checking reports from paroled enemy aliens.
January 5, 1918  Compile descriptions of ail enemy aliens arrested.
January 5, 1918  Arrange registration of all enemy alien males at local police stations and post offices between February 4 and 9.
January 12, 1918  Assist enemy aliens in finding employment.
February 4, 1918  Arrest all enemy aliens discharged from American military and recommended for detention by military.
April 6, 1918  Locate enemy aliens who fail to register.
April 15, 1918  Arrest deserters and draft dodgers under new general orders from War Department.
April 25, 1918  Register female enemy aliens.
May 6, 1918  Apply all enemy alien regulations to females.
June 19, 1918  Arrange for speedier transfer of enemy aliens arrested by local police to Marshals.
September 19, 1918  Prohibit enemy alien females from restricted areas unless given a pass by Marshal.
November 11, 1918  Armistice declared.
December 25, 1918  Regulations on enemy aliens lifted.

One American artist who never sold out to the Creel gang was Rockwell Kent, 1882-1971. In 1914, as World War I approached, he moved to the small seaport village of Brigus, Newfoundland with his wife and family in hopes of someday establishing an art school. Kent had been to Germany as a child and loved German music and songs, and he would often traipse about the hills singing German songs, and he made no effort to hide his admiration for German culture from the locals. They were not amused when, upon hearing rumors that he was indeed a German spy, he sarcastically posted a sign on his studio door capped by a German eagle that read, “Bomb Shop, Wireless Plant, Chart Room.” The vigilant villagers soon prevailed on the Canadian government to exile him, which they did, and he and his family were expelled. Even after war’s end, he endured the same scenario in Seward, Alaska when a gang of ex-four minutemen harassed and slandered him.

Poet E. E. Cummings and a friend were volunteers in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps in France. They were arrested on September 21, 1917 for “espionage” after he openly spoke of his lack of hatred for Germans, and sent to a military detention camp in Normandy for four grueling months. While Cummings was in captivity, his father received an official letter claiming that his son had been lost at sea. Although the cable was later rescinded, the silence as to his son’s whereabouts left the father distraught, and thanks to his father’s tireless efforts for U.S. diplomatic intervention, his son was released by the French and arrived back in the US in January, 1918. He served out the remainder of the war stateside. Cummings put his experience into a novel, ‘The Enormous Room.’