[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Attitudes to German society ca WWI

Helen Gillespie hgillespie at rogers.com
Thu Jun 13 19:41:10 PDT 2013

I had the occasion to be searching in a local Ontario newspaper, the St. Thomas Times-Journal for July 16, 1919 and found this curious little item that I thought I would share.  I extracted it and had to research the person after. (note that this is just after World War I  - although I haven't figured out why it was in a small town Canadian newspaper, although this and other issues of the paper were full of post war politics and military matters in Europe and elsewhere)

"Extracted from the St. Thomas Times-Journal, Wed. July 16, 1919, p. 6, col. 5

Wants Ban on German Language in the United States

Senator Myers wants to stamp out the German language in the United States.  He believes that a long step in that direction can be done by prohibiting admission to the mails of any German printed matter.  As a result, he has introduced a bill in the Senate making it unlawful to deliver by mail any book or other printed matter which is printed in the German language.  He makes it the duty of the Postmaster General and all other officials and employees of the Post Office Department to enforce the provisions of this Bill.  Any official or employed failing to do so shall be liable to a fine of not less than $100 or imprisonment for not less than one year or both.  The same bill makes it unlawful for any person to mail any literature printed in German.  A violation of one section calls for a punishment of not less than $500 or imprisonment for not less than 5 years or both."

I guess the Bill didn't pass.  This senator - according to Wikipedia and the U.S. Senate history - was a lawyer and a judge from Montana named Fred L. Myers who served  as a Democrat in both the Montana Senate (1899-1903) and the U.S. Senate (1911-1923) then an assoc. judge of the Supreme Court of Montana. Another tidbit I found that it was only days before that President Woodrow Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles (from the end of WWI) in the U.S. Senate. 

 Senator Myers must have been a tough judge, based on this Bill, but then there were many such attitudes during both world wars. And so many a German immigrant family buried their past, their language in order to blend into the American melting pot.
I know there were similar attitudes in Canada.



The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.
--Herbert Spencer

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