E.D. Morel imprisoned

Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2014), Volume 22

Cover of a transcript of the 1917 Morel trial published by the Union of Democratic Control.

Cover of a transcript of the 1917 Morel trial published by the Union of Democratic Control.

E.D. Morel was imprisoned in 1917 for a technical breach of the Defence of the Realm Act. His crime was to have sent a copy of his pamphlet Tsardom’s part in the war to Romain Rolland in Switzerland. Many of Morel’s allies rallied to his defence. In a letter to the Manchester Guardian of 19 March 1917, Bertrand Russell summarised his position:

‘The conscientious objector does not believe that violence can cure violence, or that militarism can exorcise the spirit of militarism. He persists in feeling “solidarity” with those who are called “enemies”.’

The judiciary, in particular, became very skilled at ruling against such trouble-makers. Archibald Bodkin, who was part of the prosecution team at the trial of Roger Casement, led the case against E.D. Morel. He is more generally remembered in Ireland as the judge who banned James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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