The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a public, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the personal and communal freedoms articulated both in existing U.S. laws and in the U.S. Constitution, including freedom of the press. This entry briefly reviews the history and activities of the ACLU.


The ACLU was established in 1920, a successor to a previous organization, the National Civil Liberties Bureau, which was founded in 1917. The organization took shape as a response to several historical conditions, each of which posed threats to individual or shared liberties of individuals in the United States. In the wake of World War I, some Americans feared that something like the 1917 Russian Revolution might happen in the United States. This worry raised suspicion about anyone in ...

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