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U.S. Marshals Service

History - The U.S. Marshals during World War I:

Protection of the Home Front

When President Woodrow Wilson issued the declaration of war against Germany April 6, 1917, he told the American people that "the supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act, and serve together." While American troops fought in the trenches of Europe, United States Marshals protected the home front against enemy aliens, spies, saboteurs, and slackers. From the declaration of war on April 6, 1917 to the Armistice on November 11, 1918, U.S. Marshals:

  • INVESTIGATED 222,768 violations of the selective service laws;
  • REGISTERED 480,000 German enemy aliens;
  • ISSUED 200,000 permits to enemy aliens;
  • ARRESTED 6,300 enemy aliens under Presidential Arrest Warrants;
  • INTERVIEWED 2,300 enemy aliens in military camps; and
  • GUARDED restricted areas around docks, ammunitions factories, military camps, and other sensitive areas.

President Wilson asking congress for declaration of war

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.  Congress declared war on April 6, 1917.




Duties of the U.S. Marshals during World War I:

March 27, 1917 Cooperate with local police; take precautions against hostile acts.
April 6, 1917 War declared. Warn Germans to "Obey the law".
April 10, 1917 Advise Germans to surrender all weapons. explosives, and radios; arrest any who do not.
April 16, 1917 Arrest specified enemy aliens and turn them over to War Department for internment.
April 20, 1917 Establish restricted zones around docks, factories, arsenals, etc.; issue passes to specified enemy aliens.
May 23, 1917 Marshals and their Deputies have sole authority to arrest enemy aliens.
May 29, 1917 Protect Selective Service centers; arrest draft evaders or those disrupting selective service.
June 18, 1917 Complete issuance of passes to enter restricted zones and arrest draft resistors by June 30.
July 18, 1917 Locate possible places of detention for large numbers of enemy aliens.
October 8, 1917 Arrest military deserters; assist Bureau of Investigation in locating deserters.
November 28, 1917 Remove all enemy aliens from Washington. D.C. and report their arrival in other districts.
December 1, 1917 Arrest all draft dodgers under new Selective Service regulations.
December 17, 1917 Apply enemy alien regulations to citizens of Austria-Hungary.
December 26, 1917 Arrange for registration of all male Germans in cities over 5,000.
December 29, 191 7 Prevent possible sabotage to docks and wharves by putting grates over nearby sewers.
December 29, 1917 Begin checking reports from paroled enemy aliens.
January 5, 1918 Compile descriptions of ail enemy aliens arrested.
January 5, 1918 Arrange registration of all enemy alien males at local police stations and post offices between February 4 and 9.
January 12, 1918 Assist enemy aliens in finding employment.
February 4, 1918 Arrest all enemy aliens discharged from American military and recommended for detention by military.
April 6, 1918 Locate enemy aliens who fail to register.
April 15, 1918 Arrest deserters and draft dodgers under new general orders from War Department.
April 25, 1918 Register female enemy aliens.
May 6, 1918 Apply all enemy alien regulations to females.
June 19, 1918 Arrange for speedier transfer of enemy aliens arrested by local police to Marshals.
September 19, 1918 Prohibit enemy alien females from restricted areas unless given a pass by Marshal.
November 11, 1918 Armistice declared.
December 25, 1918 Regulations on enemy aliens lifted.



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