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War Hysteria on the First Day

Richmond Palladium headline

I had intended to ease into the story of Richmond’s part in World War One.  Today marks one hundred years since President Wilson had addressed Congress four days earlier, and the following days saw calls for enlistments, flag raisings, and greater production.  In the time it took the resolution to get through Congress, the country – and Wayne County – was whipped into a frenzy.

In addition to other war news and the announcement of a “patriotic celebration” to be held in the next week, the front page includes the title “Disloyal Utterances by Richmond Teachers Will Cause Dismissal.”

Richmond school teachers who utter disloyal sentiments will lose their jobs.

Superintendent Giles says the school board will not retain any teacher in the school system who is not heart and soul with the United States.

The superintendent this morning instituted an investigation of reports that teachers have been voicing sentiments against the United States and in favor of Germany.

The teachers, whose names have been reported to the superintendent, are so-called German advocates.

One of the high school teachers this morning characterized other teachers, who are accused of disloyalty, as “blood-suckers, who are being paid American money to teach American pupils in American schools and who are for Germany as against the United States.”

Superintendent Giles also probed charges made by the Woman’s Relief Corps against a teacher in one of Richmond’s school.  These charges said children in her class were not permitted to sing “America.” Giles is inclined to believe the charges are exaggerated.  The teacher, it is understood, denies the charge and says the report may have grown out of her attempting to teach the children to sing “America” less harshly.

Complaint was made several days ago by a prominent Richmond woman that a Quaker teacher in an east end school was teaching “peace at any price” doctrine.

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