There are a few reasons why I chose the Espionage Act. The first of which is, I love spies. Spies and espionage have always been fascinating topics for me. The second of which is, the early 1900s are one of my favorite periods in American history. Mostly, it's Prohibition and mobsters that I like, but they're so overdone. So, I said, hey, why not, let's check out this Espionage Act thing. It was also mostly a last-minute decision. Not literally last-minute, but comparatively. I changed my mind so many times on this project, going through two or three other bills/laws before finally deciding that I'd rather go with the Espionage Act and everything that comes with it.
The presentation format, too, was a comparatively last-minute decision. Originally I wanted to do a documentary, but I didn't. I hate working with iMovie: it's like a toddler trying to wrestle a bear. Also, there would be a certain lack of imagery and video clips to show. Documentaries aren't interesting unless there are videos and a wide range of pictures. So, I went with a Prezi. Not that I've ever worked with Prezi before or anything.
That was a challenge in itself. Prezi is pretty easy to learn, but hard to master. It might not have been the best call to do my benchmark in a system I've never used before, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was also hard to find the actual journey of the Espionage Act, which certainly shows. It's something that sort of just worked and happened. The controversy came after (and before), which caused it to be heavily debated. That was the most interesting part of the journey.
I probably would have found an entirely different bill, something more recent. It would be easier to trace it back and tell a story about its journey from a bill to a law. The Espionage Act is from 1917, and while it had a history surrounding it, said history is not quite as detailed as the sort you would find with more recent bills.
As I said, no amount of research really uncovered very much about the Espionage Act's journey through legislation, mostly just the things that happened around it. I did learn a few things about the process, though. The idea changes a lot when it goes to a bill, and changes perhaps even more when it goes to a law. While one person has an idea, the bill and then law is the product of a large number of individuals with their own interests and opinions. This prevents the idea from becoming a law and getting out of control, like Woodrow Wilson wanting the Espionage Act to apply during times of peace, too.
I expected finding information about the Espionage Act to be pretty difficult. After all, it's close to a century old. That said, it was difficult. Information about its actual journey through Congress is sparse. It was actually just about as difficult as I predicted it would be. Very, very difficult! But it was pretty fun. The rulings and Woodrow Wilson's involvements were kind of amusing to learn about, and reading about Andrew Jackson is always guaranteed to be interesting.