Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Great War: January 29, 1918

On November 16, 1917, Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation regarding "enemy aliens"--"all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized." The proclamation prohibited such enemy aliens--non-naturalized males of German origin--from coming within one hundred yards of any canal, wharf, pier, dock, or shoreline; from being within three mile of the shore line of the United States on any ocean, bay, river, or other waters, except on public ferries; to ascend into the air in any airplane, balloon, airship, or flying machine; and from entering the District of Columbia or the Panama Canal Zone.

The proclamation also required enemy aliens to register and to carry their registration cards with them at all times. A news item found in the Columbia Republican for January 29, 1918, provides information about how the registration was carried out in Hudson.


The article goes on to provide more specific details about the four photographs and further advice about filling out the forms and concludes: "The registrant is hereby informed that he must again present himself before the registration officer who took his oath after 10 days but before 15 days from the last day fixed for registration in his registration district to obtain a registration card, upon which he must sign his name, or make his mark, and place his left thumb print in the presence of the registration officer."

Regular readers of The Gossips of Rivertown may recall that Chief John Cruise, who, as head of the Hudson Police Department, oversaw the registration of enemy aliens in Hudson, was the center of a scandal in 1922, when he was accused, tried, and found guilty of dereliction of duty for not adequately enforcing prohibition in Hudson. In January 1918, when the registration of enemy aliens began, Cruise had been chief of police for only about a month, having been promoted from sergeant to chief in December 1917.

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