He was a cartoonist who regularly contributed to the radical journal, The Masses. Glintenkamp believed that the First World War had been caused by the imperialist competitive system. After the USA declared war on the Central Powers in 1917, the journal came under government pressure to change its policy. When it refused to do this, the journal lost its mailing privileges. In July, 1917, it was claimed by the authorities that articles by Floyd Dell and Max Eastman and cartoons by Glintenkamp, Art Young and Boardman Robinson had violated the Espionage Act. Under this act it was an offence to publish material that undermined the war effort.
Glintenkamp fled the country but the others stood trial in April, 1918. Floyd Dell argued in court: "There are some laws that the individual feels he cannot obey, and he will suffer any punishment, even that of death, rather than recognize them as having authority over him. This fundamental stubbornness of the free soul, against which all the powers of the state are helpless, constitutes a conscious objection, whatever its sources may be in political or social opinion." The legal action that followed forced The Masses to cease publication. After three days of deliberation, the jury failed to agree on the guilt of Dell and his fellow defendants.
The second trial was held in January 1919. John Reed, who had recently returned from Russia, was also arrested and charged with the original defendants. Dell wrote in his autobiography, Homecoming (1933): "While we waited, I began to ponder for myself the question which the jury had retired to decide. Were we innocent or guilty? We certainly hadn't conspired to do anything. But what had we tried to do? Defiantly tell the truth. For what purpose? To keep some truth alive in a world full of lies. And what was the good of that? I don't know. But I was glad I had taken part in that act of defiant truth-telling." This time eight of the twelve jurors voted for acquittal. As the First World War was now over, it was decided not to take them to court for a third time.
The Post Office was represented by Assistant District Attorney Barnes. He explained that the Department construed the Espionage Act as giving it power to exclude from the mails anything which might interfere with the successful conduct of the war.
Four cartoons and four pieces of text in the August issue were specified as violations of the law. The cartoons were Boardman Robinson's Making the World Safe for Democracy, H. J. Glintenkamp's Liberty Bell and the conscription cartoons, and one by Art Young on Congress and Big Business. The conscription cartoon was considered by the Department "the worst thing in the magazine". The text objected to was A Question, an editorial by Max Eastman; A Tribute, a poem by Josephine Bell; a paragraph in an article on Conscientious Objectors; and an editorial, Friends of American Freedom.
The Masses harassed by the post-office authorities, was suppressed in October, 1917, by the Government, and its editors were indicted, myself among them, under the so-called Espionage Act, which was being used not against German spies but against American Socialists, Pacifists, and anti-war radicals. Sentences of twenty years were being served out to all who dared say this was not a war to end war, or that the Allied loans would never be paid. But the courts would probably not get around to us until next year; and we immediately made plans to start another magazine, The Liberator, and tell more truth; we would stand on the pre-war Wilsonian program, and call for a negotiated peace.
(3) In his autobiography, Homecoming, Floyd Dell explained his thoughts on being charged with breaking the Espionage Act.
While we waited, I began to ponder for myself the question which the jury had retired to decide. Were we innocent or guilty? We certainly hadn't 'conspired' to do anything. But what had we tried to do? Defiantly tell the truth. For what purpose? To keep some truth alive in a world full of lies. And what was the good of that? I don't know. But I was glad I had taken part in that act of defiant truth-telling.
Rumours began to perculate. "Six to six." Next morning the debate in the jury-room grew fiercer, noisier. At noon the jury came in, hot, weary, angry, limp, and exhausted. They had fought the case amongst themselves for eleven vehement hours. And they could not agree upon a verdict.
But the judge refused to discharge them; and they went back, after further instructions, with grim determination on their faces.
At eleven o'clock the jurors reported continued disagreement, but were sent back. The next noon, hopelessly deadlocked, the jury was discharged, with all our thanks. And so we were free.