Part 3: The Shameful History Be hind Iowa ’s English Only Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Sep 26 15:42:14 UTC 2008

Part 3: The Shameful History Behind Iowa's English Only Policy

by Nancy Thieman, LMSW, Sioux City, Iowa

An original Blog for Iowa exclusive in four parts

Targeting the Average German Speaker

There are many instances of outrageously-large fines being levied and
enforced if citizens were overheard speaking German in public.  In
Scott County, in the day of party lines, four women of German ancestry
were fined $225 for speaking German on the telephone.  That is the
rough equivalent of $3,200 in 2006 dollars.

In the Lowden incident mentioned in part two, four men, all
naturalized citizens in their fifties and sixties who had spoken out
in favor of the Rev. Reichardt, were arrested and taken forty miles to
the Cedar Rapids court.  There, they all denounced the reverend, and
charges of "treasonable utterances" were dropped.  They were released
without a fine, but were ordered never to speak German again.

The Ironically-named Liberty Bonds

Next came the enforced coercion of the Liberty Bonds, an ironic name
being as German-Americans were forced to buy them to prove their
loyalty to the country that was abusing them.  According to Allen,
each federal reserve district would be assigned a quota for bond sales
and then local committees would be responsible for meeting that quota.
 In Iowa, the local committees would snoop into the business of
private citizens, including looking at property records, bank accounts
and other assets, and then determine exactly how many Liberty Bonds
each person was required to purchase.

At first, no one paid much attention to these "requests" for money.
But once the systematic enforcement set in, people were much more
willing to part with their hard-earned cash.  This enforcement was
made up of public lists of those who had and had not paid up, i.e.,
loyalty lists; the distribution of cards telling how much each person
was required to pay; and frequent warnings of negative consequences
for not paying.  Citizens who did not "give" a sufficient amount were
taken before "slacker courts," yet another method of extra-legal
intimidation which was supervised by the county Council of Defense and
which seemed to prove very successful.  In fact, 400 people were
summoned before the slacker court in Council Bluffs in one year.  And
in Black Hawk County and elsewhere in Iowa, the sheriff would be so
good as to accompany you to the court if you decided not to show up on
your own.

In one case on record, a farmer from Newton, Iowa, named Peter Frahm,
was called before the post-war slacker court at the Courthouse in
Jasper County.  He had apparently balked at paying the required $1350
that the committee had decided was the amount that would prove his
loyalty.  The intimidation seemed to work, since his name never showed
up in the records again.  To guarantee his safety and that of his
family, Mr. Frahm had, in the end, forked over the modern-day
equivalent of $16,225.

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list