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Matthew Thompson, Speaker

Teaches History at Johnson County Community College

Red State: Socialism and the Free Press in Kansas

Although Socialism's contributions to the labor movement, women's suffrage, and food safety are well documented, its impact on journalism is less known. At the turn of the 20th century, a cottage industry of small newspapers blossomed in Kansas. Read by a growing working class, these newspapers often gave voice to economic issues. As the United States prepared for World War I, these newspapers ramped up editorials rallying against the "grotesque bloodletting" of war. As a result, the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 were passed, allowing authorities to imprison those with opinions counter to the war effort. This presentation will discuss the rise and fall of the Socialist press in Kansas, as well as its causes, leaders, and detractors, and explore the role of free press. 

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