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100 years ago in Spokane: Anti-Catholic group draws attention of authorities

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

A group calling itself the Guardians of Liberty, an anti-Catholic organization, attracted the attention of federal prosecutors in Spokane.

The local U.S. district attorney said his office had received numerous complaints, indicating that “an unusual activity is in progress in the city and that religious differences are being made as the basis of the move.”

The Guardians of Liberty was a national movement that would later be allied with the Ku Klux Klan. One Atlanta man was already serving a federal sentence for “spreading propaganda under the guise of religion.” It apparently had some agitators in Spokane.

The district attorney said that pro-German propagandists were taking advantage of the movement. He said “there are cases on record where alien enemies have acted as leaders in Sunday school and Bible classes for the sole purpose of sowing dissension among the people.”

He said his office had no intention of interfering with “sincere religious beliefs,” but would be willing to act when a movement “takes on the character of arraying class against class, or sect against sect, by stirring up hatreds based on old class or religious differences, and thereby interfering with the prosecution of the war.”

From the transportation beat: The region’s rail transit system was showing early signs of trouble. The Inland Empire Railway, an interurban rail line, said it had been forced to cut train service because of paved roads “and increased use of autos” since 1911.

The Washington Water Power Co. was also proposing to cut several streetcar routes.


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