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MenckenThe American Iconoclast$
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Marion Elizabeth Rodgers

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072389

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195072389.001.0001

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Marion Elizabeth Rodgers

Oxford University Press

America's entry into war on April 2, 1917, turned Mencken's life upside down. As a German-American now writing for the New York Evening Mail, he became the target of super-patriots. George Creel launched the Espionage Act, containing some of the broadest and most restrictive sanctions against civil liberties and free speech that the country ever witnessed. As a German-American who felt separated from American society, Mencken began to gain insight on another group he had derided years earlier: African-Americans. Together with James Weldon Johnson, they urged black Americans to start writing realistically about racial issues, including lynching. Mencken also met Philip Goodman, and wrote A Book of Prefaces and Damn a Book of Calumny, both of which attacked American literature and conformity head on.

Keywords:   George Creel, The Committee for Public Information, Espionage Act, Department of Justice, patriotism, censorship, prejudice, James Weldon Johnson, Phillip Goodman, Woodrow Wilson

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