Following America’s declaration of war with Germany in April 1917, the U.S. Congress passed the Espionage Act of 15 June 1917, which defined espionage during wartime.
Be it enacted, That section three of the Act… approved June 15, 1917, be… amended so as to read as follows:
“SEC. 3. Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall wilfully make or convey false reports, or false statements, or say or do anything except by way of bona fide and not disloyal advice to an investor… with intent to obstruct the sale by the United States of bonds… or the making of loans by or to the United States, or whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully cause… or incite… insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall wilfully obstruct… the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag… or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States, or any language intended to bring the form of government… or the Constitution… or the military or naval forces… or the flag… of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute… or shall wilfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall wilfully… urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things… necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war… and whoever shall wilfully advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favour the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both….”
Both the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act were repealed in 1921.