On December 11, 1917, the government opened its case in Kansas City, Missouri against the Moores, Browder and six others also charged with conspiring to obstruct the draft law in that state.   Harvey Kleinschmidt was not indicted having agreed to serve as a witness for the government. Judge A. S. Van Valkenburgh left no doubt the case focused on the issue of patriotism. The constitutional right of free speech, the judge admonished the jury, “cannot be made a cloak for deliberate or intentional lawbreaking.” With scrutiny of First Amendment rights removed, Van Valkenburgh branded the defendants with an image of secrecy and evil plotting, cautioning it was rare that a conspiracy can be proven directly as those who band together to do wrong seldom act openly in such a manner as to furnish direct evidence of their purposes. The prosecution need only show that a conspiracy was not improbable. Likening the soldiers the defendants attempted to dissuade from fulfilling their duty to the “instrumentality of the Almighty,” the judge declared in apocryphal language that should the nation fail to raise an army to protect women and children on foreign shores, it would inevitably have to do so at home.

Not surprisingly, it took the jury only fifteen minutes to find all the defendants guilty. The judge handed down a sentence of two years and a $1,000 fine against Raymond Moore, Browder, who good to his word was serving a one year sentence for refusing to register for the draft, and the six other defendants. Van Valkenburgh imposed a fine only on Warneson. Arriving in court with her four-month old child cradled in her arms, the judge declared that although he considered Mrs. Moore the “most guilty” of the conspirators, “ the court did not desire to set the precedent of sending infants to jail” with their mother. The improper treatment of children, Van Valkenburgh moralized, we leave to “the enemies of our country in this war.”

Thomas Rosenblum has worked with Historic Hudson Valley, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Oklahoma Historical Society. For the past twenty-five years he has been with the National Park Service as a Curator and Historian and is currently on the staff of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.