History Speaks

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History Speaks: Candid, 1782

Candid argued in 1782 for new protections for the press from seditious libel. The press was central to examining candidates in the electoral process. He advocated for an end to the doctrine of libels—criminal prosecutions of the press—while civil suits could continue. Since public officials are chosen to serve the public, it “highly behoves the people in general to be[Read More…]

January 6, 2018 History Speaks
John Milton

History Speaks: Essays – John Milton Areopagitica, 1644

John Milton (1608-1674), author of Paradise Lost, was not only one of England’s greatest poets but also one of its foremost political philosophers. His Areopagitica was an appeal to Parliament in 1644 to reconsider a law, which it had enacted a year earlier, providing for licensing the press. Milton argued that the press should be unlicensed, advancing the classic argument[Read More…]

November 27, 2017 History Speaks
Samuel Adams

History Speaks: Essays – Samuel Adams as Populus

Protesting against the Stamp Act and then the Townshend Acts, Boston newspapers excoriated Parliament, the King’s ministers, and royal governor Francis Bernard. In turn, Bernard tried several times to prosecute Benjamin Edes and John Gill, the editors of the radical Boston Gazette, for seditious libel. But Boston grand juries refused to indict them. Samuel Adams, writing as Populus in the[Read More…]

November 27, 2017 History Speaks
Thomas Jefferson

History Speaks: Letters – Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington

As minister to France, Thomas Jefferson could view his country from afar and gauge the stance of prominent Europeans on America. In this famous letter to Edward Carrington, a fellow Virginian, Jefferson upholds the freedom of the people to criticize their government. The American people “are the only censors of their governors; and even their errors will tend to keep[Read More…]

November 27, 2017 History Speaks
History Speaks: Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address

History Speaks: Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address

On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson delivered his First Inaugural Address in the Senate Chamber before taking the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Marshall. He became the nation’s third President amidst the fires still burning from the odious Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Under the Sedition Act, the Federalist Administration of John Adams had jailed more[Read More…]

November 27, 2017 History Speaks