Fear of Infectious Dissent: First World War Military Intelligence, Labor, and the Conscientious Objection of Erling Lunde


1 June 2015


Volume 1 – Number 6

How to cite

Lon Strauss



When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the military had to drastically expand to meet the requirements of a modern industrial war. Congress passed the Selective Service Act a month later with very few provisions for conscientious objectors. Erling H. Lunde was a pacifist who sought to avoid military service. With his stated objection to war and marriage to Laura Hughes, a well-known and outspoken pacifist, after the American declaration of war, Lunde came under investigation by the US Army’s Military Intelligence Division. Military personnel conducting surveillance of American civilians was a new concept in the United States. Intelligence officers were often citizen-soldiers themselves with inadequate training to conduct surveillance. Thus, they were guided by the prevalent political paranoia of the middle and upper classes that feared socialism, dissent, and the influence pacifism could have on the overall war effort.


Conscientious objectors, Erling Lunde, surveillance, Military Intelligence, Selective Service, US Home Front