from the porch of 309 Stewart Homes. This FHA housing project
on Montana Avenue first opened in 1940 with 72 units; 60 more
units were added in 1953.
was named for Montana Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel
V. Stewart (1872-1939). A Democrat, Stewart also served as Governor
of Montana from 1913 to 1921. The project was ostensibly named
for him because he was instrumental in upholding the constitutionality
of the Federal Housing Administration, but Stewart's ultimate
legacy is that of an enemy of free speech.
Governor Samuel V. Stewart enacted the
Montana Sedition Act, which has been called the
broadest, most repressive anti-speech law passed by a state
in the history of the country. The law applied to anyone who
in wartime spoke or published disloyal, profane, violent,
scurrilous, contemptuous, slurring or abusive language about
the form of government of the United States.
could then be convicted of sedition at trial, sent to prison
for up to 20 years and fined up to $20,000. Of the 145 people
charged, 78 were convicted. Of those convicted, 41 were imprisoned.
In May of
2006, thanks to the efforts of those involved in the Sedition
Project of the University of Montana's School of
Journalism, Governor Schweitzer signed a Proclamation of Pardon
for 78 persons convicted of sedition in 1918-1919.
It is hoped
by your editor that when Stewart Homes is eventually revtalized,
that the name be changed to something more representative of
the freedom-loving spirit of Montanans today.