'A Woman Found Guilty Of Thinking:' Seattle's Legacy Of Patriotic Dissent

May 6, 2017

The United States entered the First World War 100 years ago in 1917. At the time, many leftist activists and labor supporters were skeptical of the country's intentions and reasons for going to war. One Seattle woman felt it was time to give the world a piece of her mind about the war effort. 

Her name was Louise Olivereau. She was outspoken, highly educated, and raised by a minister with a strong moral compass. Historian Michael Schein researched Louise’s forgotten place in Seattle’s history of radical activism.

“Louise is Washington’s patriotic anarchist," said Schein. "And with the ACLU currently reminding us that dissent is patriotic, I think she’s very current for the times.”

Back in 1917, Louise worked at the Seattle office of the International Workers of the World, a powerful union better known as the Wobblies. However, it was her own private activism that landed her on trial for espionage.  

Sound Effect producer Allie Ferguson talked with Schein about how Louise's unique moral outlook got her in trouble and how her legacy of patriotic dissent continues today. 

Michael Schein is on the Speakers Bureau for Humanities Washington.