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Rare rank circa 1918 American Protective League Chief badge Type III in excellent condition. The 'federal' style, gilt bronze badge shows the number: "A 538" stamped in the center and reads: "AUXILIARY TO U.S. DEP'T OF JUSTICE" in raised lettering. The top of the badge shows a spread winged eagle perched atop a scroll or banner that reads: "CHIEF" and the outer edge of the center reads: "AMERICAN PROTECTIVE LEAGUE" in embossed block lettering.
The American Protective League (APL) was a band of private citizen volunteers who worked with federal agencies. The APL was formed in 1917, conceived of in Chicago by a man who felt that the US Department of Defense was understaffed during WWI in areas of counterintelligence, membership soon spread to 600 cities. The members of the APL worked in concert with those from the Bureau of Investigation (BOI ??? the precursor to the FBI) and enjoyed a quasi-official status. They provided counterintelligence, informing on and even sometimes physically taking into custody suspected German and anti-war sympathizers, and they also kept tabs on those who did not enlist in the war. This last activity led the members to be seen as vigilantes and it is said that they violated the civil liberties of citizens during raids on men who hadn't registered for the draft. There were also reports of APL members harassing members of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) because of some of the IWW's anti-government activities. After the German Armistice ended the war, the US government credited APL members for their service, but disbanded the League because government officials deemed APL information as "inferences" and the League was called a "menace" by the Ohio governor. Secret groups and organizations continued some of their relationships with members of the APL for the purpose of gathering information on radicals.
VINTAGE: Circa 1918
SIZE: Approximately 2-3/8" x 1-3/8"
MATERIALS / CONSTRUCTION: Stamped gilt bronze
ATTACHMENT: Vertical pin with drop in locking swivel catch
ITEM NOTES: This is from a federal police and law enforcement collection which we will be listing more of over the next few months. MADJM16 LFIEX7/16
CONDITION: 9- (Excellent+): The badge shows minor wear, nearly all of the gilt plating remains intact, overall excellent condition.
GUARANTEE: As with all my items, this piece is guaranteed original.