This Day in History

Dec. 14, 1917: Kate O’Hare Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Time Periods: World War I: 1910 - 1919
Themes: US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, Women's History
Kate O'Hare | Zinn Education Project

Kate Richards O’Hare addresses crowd in front of the St. Louis Court House on National Women’s Suffrage Day, May 2, 1914. Source: St. Louis Times, 1914. Missouri History Museum.

On Dec. 14, 1917, U.S. peace activist and suffragist Kate O’Hare was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for a speech denouncing WWI.

Occupying a neighboring jail cell was Emma Goldman, the well-known anarchist organizer, feminist, writer and anti-war critic who was imprisoned for obstructing the draft.

O’Hare was one of a number of prisoners Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs cited in his “Canton Speech” for which he in turn was imprisoned. He said,

The other day they sentenced Kate Richards O’Hare to the penitentiary for five years. The United States, under plutocratic rule, is the only country that would send a woman to prison for five years for exercising the right of free speech.

Read more about her life and work in How Did Kate Richards O’Hare’s Conviction and Incarceration for Sedition  during World War I Change Her Activism?