- Learning More
- Biographical Notes
Born 1889; registered on June 5, 1917 as a C.O.; reasons for being a C.O. = religious, political and humanitarian; arrested first week of January 1918 for refusing to complete the questionnaire; incarcerated at Fort Logan (CO) after refusing to report for induction while out on bail; transferred to Camp Funston (KS), where he was locked in guardhouse for refusing to wear uniform and work in the yard; charged with desertion and with spreading propaganda and court-martialed at Camp Dodge (IA) on July 24, 1918, after consistently rejecting several offers of noncombatant service; interviewed by Board of Inquiry on July 4, 1918 at Dodge, and on Jan. 6 [1919?] at the Disciplinary Barracks [Ft. Leavenworth]; c originally sentenced, along with three others, to death; sentenced to 25 years in prison - reduced to 5 [1?] years; imprisoned in Ft. Douglas War Prison Barracks; released from Walter Reed Hospital, D.C.; 2003 article by Melissa Jones states that Salmon refused to fill out a Selective Service form in Dec. 1917, which led to his arrest, court-martialing and sentencing to death (all in Jan. 1918), then in prison he was beaten and put in solitary confinement; he began a hunger strike in June 1919 that went for 13 days; was moved to infirmary where he was force-fed milk by shoving a porcelain funnel down his throat; as he continued to refuse food, the govt. sent him to a hospital for the criminally insane; he wrote to President Woodrow Wilson asking to be killed outright rather than by the slow torture of forced feedings; he was the last conscientious objector to be released from prison (his release was prolonged because of a court case undertaken by the ACLU in his behalf); he had 3 children; 8th grade education; believed to be the only Catholic C.O. in WWI by some (though this is not true); died on February 15, 1932; Julius Eichel wrote in Nov. 1, 1978 letter to John Sillito (Archivist of Weber State College, Ogden, Utah): “Ben Salmon was a devout Catholic and a Single Tax advocate, and he was very popular with the C.O.s. He was intelligent, contemplative and had a pleasant personality and a fine sense of humor. He was of slight stature.... Salmon was one of the last [imprisoned C.O.s] to be released. I lost sight of him, but others who kept in touch with him told me that he was so stirred by his prison experience that after his release until the end of his days he was determined to protest the imprisonment of dissenters by going on prolonged hunger strikes in front of the prisons. This sacrifice impaired his health, and he died not too long after he started this campaign”; featured in Unsung Hero of the Great War: The Life and Witness of Ben Salmon.