In his newest book, The Words that Made Us: America’s Constitutional Conversation 1760-1840, Yale law professor and constitutional historian Akhil Reed Amar tells the story of the first 80 years of public debate in the United States. This excerpt focuses on the origins of America’s newspaper culture and the central role it played in forming our democracy. Before America gained its independence, printers tested the limits of British rule by defying the Stamp Act of 1765. Once Americans were free to create their own government, elected officials relied on newspapers to circulate state constitutions and publish public opinion on issues of the day. Although it is only a fraction of Amar’s 800-page book, this excerpt manages to convey a strong message: there would likely have not been any “constitutional conversation” had there not been a vibrant and healthy press to foster it.
Akhil Reed Amar is the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law in both Yale College and Yale Law School. He is the author of more than 100 law review articles and several books, most notably The Bill of Rights, America’s Constitution, America’s Unwritten Constitution, The Constitution Today, and now The Words that Made Us: America’s Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840 which is now available for purchase on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Click here to read the excerpt.