Masters Theses

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Ernest Freeberg

Committee Members

Vejas G. Liulevicius, Tore Olsson


This thesis investigates the prison experiences of Arthur Dunham, Harold Gray, Evan Thomas, and other conscientious objectors to the First World War. It demonstrates that the Federal government of the United States used scientific management techniques, including the initiation of a discourse of 100% Americanism, the use of propaganda to spread this discourse, and the use of this discourse to encourage Americans to keep their friends, neighbors, and relatives under surveillance. These techniques were used together in order to create an American "carceral state" that allowed the government to surveil and discipline its population in such a way as to establish a hegemonic, pro-war attitude that enlisted the population in enforcing new norms upon American society.I argue that while the carceral state obtained compliance from a large portion of society, it failed to persuade an important subset of Americans: sectarians. It argues that historians of American religion have generally under theorized the divisions between American religious groups, which has resulted in a progressive/conservative dichotomy that has placed responsibility for American involvement in the First World War with Progressive Christians. Applying the Church-Sect theory of Ernest Troeltsch, Max Weber, and H. Richard Niebuhr, I argue that both Progressives and conservatives supported the war effort, and that it was those members of society who held to a sectarian position (either religious or secular) which rejected American social and culture norms and therefore, with them, involvement in the war, including the rejection of conscription. Such an approach not only reframes the debate over responsibility for the war, but calls on historians to pay closer attention to sectarian groups and their influence upon American religious history.

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