Free Expression in the Nineteenth Century to 1865

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:
Free Expression in the Nineteenth Century to 1865

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This chapter examines the status of free expression through the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The Sedition Act crisis arose within an overarching and decade-long dispute about the nature of republican democracy. Republicans invoked the tradition of dissent as they asserted a right to speak their minds, to criticize the government. Federalists relied upon the tradition of suppression as they sought to silence the voices of (temporary) outsiders, whom the Federalists viewed as a factional and corrupt party. And Republicans and Federalists both seized upon different aspects of the extant law: the doctrine of seditious libel, the Zengerian reforms, the constitutional limits on congressional power, and the implications of the first amendment.

Keywords: Sedition Act; republican democracy; Republican; dissent; Federalists; suppression; seditious libel; Zengerian reforms; congressional power; first amendment

Chapter.  22041 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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