Seattle police arrest an Austrian, a German, and a Hungarian for defaming the flag shortly after U.S. declares war on April 6, 1917.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 2/25/1999
  • Essay 948

On April 6, 1917, the same day that the U.S. Congress declares war on Germany, three aliens are arrested in Seattle for defaming the United States flag.  

Joe Slim, a 35-year-old Austrian who observed a parade in Pioneer Square recruiting men to join the war effort, "scoffed and used profane language" toward the American flag as it passed by. Informed of his behavior, Seattle Police Department Sergeant C. G. Carr and Patrolman P. W. Morris arrest Slim for "defamatory remarks regarding the American flag and the soldiers enlisted under it."

That evening Jules Christenson entered the Puget Sound Hotel at 718 6th Avenue S, where Adam Keinath, a 40-year-old German, and P. M. Basch, a 35-year-old Hungarian, were sitting in the lobby. They spotted a small U.S. flag in his buttonhole and "upbraided him for a sucker, a fool, and whatnot for wearing the colors, winding up with, 'And we suppose you are going to fight for it too.'"

Christenson responded by giving each a "stinging blow in the face" and then informed the police of their remarks. The police immediately arrested them and incarcerated them in the city jail. The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that the fate of the three aliens was pending investigation by the government immigration bureau.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 7, 1917, p. 2.

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