Document 5: Liberty Defense Union, Conference Announcement, ca. 31 July 1918, Frank P. O'Hare Collection, Box 12, Folder 4, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis.

Introduction

        This letter from the Liberty Defense Union, an organization created to free wartime activists jailed under the Espionage and Sedition Acts, announces the organization's formation. The Union anticipated O'Hare's work for amnesty for political prisoners after her release (see documents 15, 16, and 17). Many promient activists, including Roger Baldwin, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Amos Pinchot, Max Eastman, and Eugene V. Debs, were leaders of this national organization devoted to assisting imprisoned political activists. During Kate O'Hare's imprisonment, Frank P. O'Hare railed at the leadership of the Socialist Party for not working hard enough to secure her release.


 

LIBERTY DEFENSE UNION

To organize popular support in behalf of per-
sons prosecuted for the exercise of their con-
stitutional rights of free speech and free press.
___________

138 WEST 13TH STREET
NEW YORK CITY

To the Secretary:

       Several hundred men and women, chiefly of the working class, are now on trial, on their way to jail, or serving sentences for having spoken or written matter held to be in violation of existing statutes. The cases of Eugene V. Debs, Rose Pastor Stokes, Kate Richards O'Hare, and Scott Nearing are known to everybody. But there are hundreds besides them- men like Anton Fedotov of New Jersey, Hulet M. Wells of Washington, H. E. Kirchner of West Virginia, Ralphy W. Tillotson of Pennsylvania, and Jean Jacques Coronel of Connecticut- who have likewise been prosecuted for exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and free press.

       On the evenings of Wednesday, July 31st, and Thursday, August 1st, a Conference of Trade Unions, Branches of the Workmen's Circle, and other Progressive Labor Organizations of Greater New York, will be held in Webster Hall, 119 East 11th Street, for the purpose of organizing the workers into a permanent central body for aiding all persons prosecuted who are in need of help, and of arousing public opinion against the further suppression of constitutional rights and liberties.

       The Conference will be held under the auspices of the Liberty Defense Union, and has been endorsed by the United Hebrews Trades and the National Executive Committee of the Workmen's Circle.

       Among the speakers who will address the Conference are Max Pine, Abraham Epstein, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Scott Nearing, Alderman B. Charney Vladeck, Rose Pastor Stokes, Roger N. Baldwin and Charles W. Ervin.

       Your organization is cordially invited to send two delegates to the Conference. Enclosed you will find a registration card. Please return it at your earliest convenience.

Fraternally yours,

(Signed)

LOUIS P. LOCHNER, Director Liberty Defense Union
ROGER N. BALDWIN, Director National Civil Liberties Bureau
MAX PINE, General Secretary United Hebrew Trades
FREDERICK A. BLOSSOM, Treasurer Liberty Defense Union
JOSEPH SCHLOSSBERG, General Secretary Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
ABRAHAM EPSTEIN, President Workmen's Circle
CHARLES W. ERVIN, Socialist Candidate for Governor

ABRAHAM I. SHIPLACOFF, Assemblyman
B. CHARNEY VLADECK, Alderman

(Over)

______________________________________________________

PROVISIONAL PROGRAM
_________________

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 7:30 P. M.

Call to order by Charles W. Ervin, Chairman Executive Committee of the Liberty Defense Union

Election of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and English and Yiddish Secretaries.

Appointment of Credentials Committee.

Report on the Work of the Liberty Defense Union, by Louis P. Lochner, Director of the L. D. U.

Summary of the Report in Yiddish, by Isaac Slonimsky.

Short Addresses by Rose Pastor Stokes, Abraham I. Shiplacoff, Max Pine, Roger N. Baldwin, and others.

Election of Committees on Resolutions, Ways and Means, and Nominations.

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 7:30 P. M.

Call to order by Chairman of First Session.

Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman for Second Session.

Addresses by Scott Nearing, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, B. Charney Vladeck, and others.

Reports of Committees.        Discussion of Reports.

Adoption of Resolutions.

Election of Permanent Executive Committee.

Closing Addresses.

Adjournment




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