12 December 2009

Mrs. Acklen's Sympathy For The Germans In 1918

There's an FBI file on Mrs. Acklen, dated 11 May 1918, who was thought to have German sympathies (see Footnote here). The FBI file also noted that her husband, Joseph Hayes Acklen, was a personal friend of President Woodrow Wilson, and that Mr. Acklen was an "intensely patriotic citizen."

Found in FBI case files: A report by J. M. Towler dated June 25, 1918, with an attached letter (dated May 11, 1918) from Professor Draughon of Draughon's College, stated that the Professor confidentially told Agent Towler that Mrs. Acklen's husband had confidentially told him (the professor) that his wife (Mrs. Acklen) was very pro-German. Professor Draughon asked Mrs. Acklen to resign from her position at the college unless she "would write a letter over her signature that she was not pro-German. This she declined to do."

Mrs. Acklen was later interviewed by Agent Towler (probably in July for his August 1918 report). Mrs. Acklen admitted that she "...was interested in the German Kultur and had been studying German for some time. She had many friends who were Germans and German sympathizers, among them being Prof. Sanborn (probably Herbert Charles Sanborn who wrote this)." Mrs. Acklen stated that she would like the investigation reopened and that she had purchased War Bonds. The agent recommended that the matter "...should be handled in a diplomatic way and with as little embarrassment as possible to Col. Acklen." "...Col. Acklen has a handsome home worth about $65,000. He is amply able to care for his wife and there is no reason in the world why she should be working."

Another page of the report indicated that "through the influence of Hon. Thomas J. Tyne, the attorney acting for the Du Ponts and the Government, she secured a very responsible position on the Powder Plant." A letter was sent to H. S. Johnson of DuPont suggesting that Mrs. Acklen "be relieved of her position...at the Powder Plant."

Mrs. Joseph H. Acklen was Jeannette Tillotson Acklen who compiled Tennessee Bible records and whose name surfaces when doing genealogical research.

See my other Acklen/Acklin posts here, including a letter from Jeanette to the American Compendium of Genealogy in Chicago.

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