Balancing freedom and security isn’t new. The Chicago History Museum’s “Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America” exhibit explores how we’ve previously dealt with it.
Looking back at nine major periods and events in U.S history from 1776 until today, “Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs” examines the times the nation had dealt with security issues within its borders and how it struggled with the controversial problem of providing safety without curtailing civil liberties. This interactive exhibit not only looks at the details of the acts and tragedies, but also how the government responded and the transformations of public opinion.
The timeline of the exhibit will take you through 80 acts of terror that have been committed in the U.S. from the capture and destruction of federal buildings during the War of 1812 to the anarchist’s bombs that lead to the Palmer Raids of 1919 to the KKK and ending with the current War on Terror that came from the tragedy of September 11. See a badge and ID card from the American Protective League, operatives who spied on fellow Americans during World War I on behalf of the Justice Department; a replica of the anarchist globe bomb that was used as evidence in a trial relating to the Chicago Haymarket Riot; and fragments of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
The exhibit opened in 2004 at the International Spy Museum and ends its tour at the Chicago History Museum.
“Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America” is on view until Nov. 26 at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St. For tickets and more information visit chicagohistory.org/exhibition/spies-traitors-saboteurs-fear-freedom-america.