Democracy and Free Expressions

in Free Expression and Democracy in America

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226240664
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226240749 | DOI:
Democracy and Free Expressions

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This chapter begins by briefly addressing the question of whether democracy requires the protection of free expression. It then discusses the dimensions of free expression. Most American colonists considered themselves Englishmen, and as such, believed they had inherited the rights and liberties of all Englishmen. The chapter also considers the extent to which free expression, including speech and press, was protected in England. It argues that the American colonists inherited from the English the legal restrictions on expression, commensurate with a form of (English) republican government, as well as the traditions of dissent and suppression. Not only did the English law punishing speech apply in the colonies, but many colonies adopted additional laws to restrict expression.

Keywords: free speech; free press; Englishmen; American colonists; English law

Chapter.  5191 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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