Stephen B. McCrea

Silencing Thomas Kerl

The Espionage Act of 1917 and the War Against Dissent

During the First World War the United States invested millions of dollars to persuade Americans to support the mobilization of men and resources. The government orchestrated a propaganda campaign and enlisted thousands of informants who sought to prosecute citizens who were thought to be less than loyal. This biography explores the life of one of those who was prosecuted.  Originally from Nebraska, where he had thousands of acres of farmland, Thomas Kerl was a resident of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He was a farmer, developer, educator, philanthropist, state legislator and an attorney. His story reminds us of how the media can manipulate public opinion and how easily the truth can be overlooked.

Learn more about Silencing Thomas Kerl.

Available on Amazon for Kindle and for Print.

Also available at:

The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’Alene

The Well Read Moose

Museum of North Idaho

Coeur d'Alene Public Library

Cover art and renderings by Brien McCrea Studio

About the Author

Stephen B. McCrea (Steve) is a retired attorney living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where he has lived for the past forty-five years. Steve graduated from the University of Idaho law school in 1974. He was a Public Defender in Coeur d’Alene for three years and tried criminal cases in state and Federal court. Steve continued to practice law and focused on business transactions, divorce, and bankruptcy matters until he retired in 2017. He lives with his wife a short distance from where the Kerl family lived. In 1982 through 1994 he was a councilperson on the Coeur d’Alene City Council. This led to his interest in the history of Coeur d’Alene, especially after hearing about stories about his grandfather who was a County Commissioner from 1919 to 1929.

Steve is currently the Chair of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Board.

In addition to reading and writing, he enjoys skiing, hiking, fly fishing and travel with his wife and friends.


Silencing Thomas Kerl featured in the Inlander Former CDA Councilman authors book based on the life of Thomas Kerl By Carrie Scozzaro June 25, 2020 A powerful country must choose sides in a conflict fought elsewhere but impacting their own bottom line. Another government stealthily convinces that country’s citizens to choose war, fanning flames of patriotism through a propaganda campaign. The …

Thomas Kerl: Examination

Kerl’s clash with the government was small compared toothers who spoke out against the war. But his messageresonates. Examining Kerl’s life is my attempt to show how easilythe government was able to establish a narrative, and how questioning that narrative resulted in a criminal prosecution akinto treason. The official explanation for the war that justifiedthousands …