Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2018

World War I in Lawrence: Unpatriotic speech rubs some residents the wrong way

April 15, 2018

Editor’s note: Local writer Sarah St. John compiles reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence 100 years ago during World War I.

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In the spring of 1918, a speech given by a visiting orator raised the hackles of several of Lawrence’s patriotic citizens, including Mayor W. J. Francisco. Scott Anderson, formerly a pastor in Los Angeles, California, gave a lecture in the Fraternal Aid Union Hall titled “War Clouds and Their Silver Linings.” According to the Lawrence Journal-World, “Both Mayor Francisco and his wife attended the lecture as well as several other prominent citizens, practically all of whom characterized the speaker’s address as being unpatriotic and un-American. Mayor Francisco said the address was ‘rotten’ and that it impressed him as being ‘very unpatriotic.’ … That the audience was disgusted with the speaker and his words was clearly shown by the fact that many left during the lecture. ... Mr. Anderson attempted to prove that the present world war was the beginning of the end of the world which would take place at the close of the war in 1925. Mr. Anderson pleaded with the Christians in his audience to hide themselves under the shadow of the wing of the great creator and pray until the end came. ... The essence of the lecture seemed to be a pleading with the people to remain inactive during the present world struggle although the speaker did not say so in as many words. After the lecture he said he was not a pacifist, but in the next breath he said he did not believe a person could be a Christian and fight in the present world war.” The next day, Mayor Francisco announced that “in the future all lecturers coming to Lawrence must first prove conclusively their unqualified allegiance to the United States before they will be permitted to speak.” The mayor added that any lecturer giving such an unpatriotic address as Mr. Anderson would be severely dealt with.

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