Free and Open Press : The Founding of American Democratic Press Liberty

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2001-12-01
  • Publisher: New York University Press

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The Free and Open Press ought to be required reading whenever anyone questions the meaning of the Founding Fathers, the framers of the Constitution, or other early American icons of liberty.--Journalism HistoryRobert W. T. Martin revitalizes a debate over the status of press rights in eighteenth-century America that had grown tiresome over the past 20 years...all scholars of American political thought and constitutional development should read this book.--American Political Science ReviewMartin uses a number of fresh quotations and a helpful arranging and packaging of many ideas on a momentous topic.-- American Historical ReviewMartin is not the first to examine that familiar topic, but his is the most heavily contextualized discussion of the topic yet and the most ambitious in scope.--The Journal of American HistoryIn a welcome contrast to many recent studies (and museum exhibitions), Martin sees a clear, prima facie party distinction on the issue of press freedom.--William and Mary QuarterlyThe current, heated debates over hate speech and pornography were preceded by the equally contentious debates over the free and open press in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Thus far little scholarly attention has been focused on the development of the concept of political press freedom even though it is a form of civil liberty that was pioneered in the United States. But the establishment of press liberty had implications that reached far beyond mere free speech. In this groundbreaking work, Robert Martin demonstrates that the history of the free and open press is in many ways the story of the emergence and first real expansions of the early American public sphere and civil society itself.Through a careful analysis of early libel law, the state and federal constitutions, and the Sedition Act crisis Martin shows how the development of constitutionalism and civil liberties were bound up in the discussion of the free and open press. Finally, this book is a study of early American political thought and democratic theory, as seen through the revealing window provided by press liberty discourse. It speaks to broad audiences concerned with the public square, the history of the book, free press history, contemporary free expression controversies, legal history, and conceptual history.

Author Biography

Robert W. T. Martin is Visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Hamilton College.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Note on the Text xi
Introduction 1(15)
The English Inheritance: From Milton to Cato
The Coming of the Crisis
The Pre-Revolutionary Crisis
The Making of the First Amendment
The Emergence of Modern Democratic Press Liberty
Conclusion: The Foundation of American Press Liberty 155(14)
Notes 169(46)
Bibliography 215(18)
Index 233(6)
About the Author 239

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