Free Speech, The People's Darling Privilege: Struggles for Freedom of Expression in American History

Free Speech, The People's Darling Privilege: Struggles for Freedom of Expression in American History

by Michael Kent Curtis
     
 

ISBN-10: 0822325292

ISBN-13: 2900822325290

Pub. Date: 11/17/2000

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

Modern ideas about the protection of free speech in the United States did not originate in twentieth-century Supreme Court cases, as many have thought. Free Speech, "The People's Darling Privilege" refutes this misconception by examining popular struggles for free speech that stretch back through American history. Michael Kent Curtis focuses on struggles in which…  See more details below

Overview

Modern ideas about the protection of free speech in the United States did not originate in twentieth-century Supreme Court cases, as many have thought. Free Speech, "The People's Darling Privilege" refutes this misconception by examining popular struggles for free speech that stretch back through American history. Michael Kent Curtis focuses on struggles in which ordinary and extraordinary people, men and women, black and white, demanded and fought for freedom of speech during the period from 1791-when the Bill of Rights and its First Amendment bound only the federal government to protect free expression-to 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment sought to extend this mandate to the states. A review chapter is also included to bring the story up to date.

Curtis analyzes three crucial political struggles: the controversy that surrounded the 1798 Sedition Act, which raised the question of whether criticism of elected officials would be protected speech; the battle against slavery, which raised the question of whether Americans would be free to criticize a great moral, social, and political evil; and the controversy over anti-war speech during the Civil War. Many speech issues raised by these controversies were ultimately decided outside the judicial arena-in Congress, in state legislatures, and, perhaps most importantly, in public discussion and debate. Curtis maintains that modern proposals for changing free speech doctrine can usefully be examined in the light of this often ignored history. This broader history shows the crucial effect that politicians, activists, ordinary citizens-and later the courts-have had on the American understanding of free speech.

Filling a gap in legal history, this enlightening, richly researched historical investigation will be valuable for students and scholars of law, U.S. history, and political science, as well as for general readers interested in civil liberties and free speech.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900822325290
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
11/17/2000
Series:
Constitutional Conflicts
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
536

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
Introduction1
1 The English and Colonial Background23
2 The Debate over the Sedition Act of 179852
3 Sedition in the Courts: Enforcement and Its Aftermath80
4 Sedition: Reflections and Transitions105
5 The Declaration, the Constitution, Slavery, and Abolition117
6 Shall Abolitionists Be Silenced?131
7 Congress Confronts the Abolitionists: The Post Office and
Petitions155
8 The Demand for Northern Legal Action Against Abolitionists182
9 Legal Theories of Suppression and the Defense of Free
Speech194
10 Elijah Lovejoy: Mobs, Free Speech, and the Privileges of
American Citizens216
11 After Lovejoy: Transformations241
12 The Free Speech Battle over Helper's Impending Crisis271
13 Daniel Worth: The Struggle for Free Speech in North
Carolina on the Eve of the Civil War289
14 The Struggle for Free Speech in the Civil War: Lincoln
and Vallandigham300
15 The Free Speech Tradition Confronts the War Power319
16 A New Birth of Freedom? The Fourteenth Amendmentand the
First Amendment357
17 Where Are They Now? A Very Quick Review of Suppression
Theories in the Twentieth Century384
Conclusion414
Notes438
Index513

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