Dakota Datebook

Kate Richards O’Hare

 

On this date in 1917, the news from the front … once again … was grim.  With the collapse of the Russian Army and the capture of their artillery due to a quick German advance, conditions on the Eastern Front were in disarray.

Col. Frank White, now in command of the newly formed 2nd Regiment of the North Dakota National Guard, received orders that he was to report to Palo Alto, California.  This raised speculation that the destination of the regiment would be the Russian Front and not France.  Col. John H. Fraine, commander of the 1st Regiment was also advised to report to California, adding credibility to the belief.  However, others believed that these troops would be sent to the Philippines to relieve the more experienced Scouts, who would in turn transfer to the Russian Front.  Many of the officers from North Dakota had experience in the Philippines, having served during the Philippine Insurrection.

As the seriousness of the mobilization became more apparent and the enthusiastic glow of patriotism waned to realism, necessary changes began taking place among the units.  OIder men were replaced by younger, more able recruits, and more experienced officers were chosen as the units prepared for active federal service.

Across North Dakota, draft registrants were hearing whether their number had been pulled as the results of the national drawing on July 20th were published.  The first number drawn was 258, meaning every registrant who had been assigned that number was subject to the draft.

But among the whirlwind involved in the preparation for war and the call for patriotism, Kate Richard O’Hare, the noted Socialist lecturer, began a visit to North Dakota.  As she stepped off the train for a lecture scheduled in Devils Lake, she was arrested by the US Marshall.  In a speech at Bowman only a few nights before she stated that American women who didn’t resist the taking of their sons in the Army were no better than brood sows. She also stated that the men who had volunteered were only fit for fertilizer when they got to France.  For these seditious utterances she was charged with interfering in recruitment efforts and arranged in federal court in Fargo. On August 1st she was indicted by a Grand Jury.

In an editorial on July 31st,  the Grand Forks Herald stated that we pride ourselves on being a free country and speech above all other things is free… but there are the times when discretion in speech is a desirable thing.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis

Sources:

Grand Forks Herald July 26, 1917

The Bismarck Tribune, July 26, 1917

The Devils Lake World and InterOcean, August 2, 1917

The Hope Pioneer, July 26, 1917

» View the post.