When World War I began there was much controversy over whether the United States should enter the war or not. There were many pro-war and anti-war citizens throughout the country. Citizens across the U.S. did not hesitate to voice their opinions. Woodrow Wilson felt threatened by it and the effect it was having on the country, so he passed the Espionage Act (1917), and later the Sedition Act (1918). After the U.S. entered the war Woodrow Wilson needed men to enlist in the army. He needed approximately five hundred thousand men, however only a few thousand enlisted. Because there was a lack of volunteers Wilson was forced to draft men. Being that the draft was something new, any criticism towards it was seen as persuading men from enlisting. To prevent that and ensure that the U.S. would have enough soldiers Wilson passed the Espionage Act. This Act fined and imprisoned anyone who made false statements about the national defense, provoked rebellion in the military, or obstructed recruitment or the draft. Soon after the passing of a second act, the Sedition Act occurred. This act forbade any criticism of the government, flag, or uniform. Any spoken or published form of writing, expressing negative opinions about the war, or opinions against the draft would lead to the imprisonment of the author. The Sedition Act was enacted to control groups that might interfere with the war effect. During the time of these two acts many people were fined, and imprisoned because they voiced their views. Some, of the many imprisoned were: Eugene V Debs, Rose Pastor Stokes, and Kate Richards O"Hare. There were people who believed in the Espionage and Sedition Acts, while many opposed it. .
One of the main supporters was clearly Woodrow Wilson. He was the one who brought the law to Congress and ensured its enactment. Wilson was having trouble getting people to enlist in the war, and for the first time had to draft people.