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Saving the freedom of speech

Posted by: | November 18, 2009 | No Comment |

In 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts were signed by John Adams. The latter of the two was written to prevent papers being published that were “false, scandalous and malicious writing … against the Government of the United States” and threatened  punishment “by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollar, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.”

This is not way followed the First Amendment to the Constitution that promises “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or the press.”

The country was contradicting its own laws only 10 years after they were written. Its leaders could not let their country, one they fought so hard to found, start off on such a bad note. This law could not stand.

Some people continued writing in a way that was originally promised to them. An example is Matthew Lyon, a congressman from Vermont. He accused the president of having “unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, or selfish avarice.” He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to for months in prison.

Matthew Lyon

Matthew Lyon

However, the people in this country at that time did not forget their recent fight for freedom. Lyon was considered a hero by the people for standing up for what was right. While in prison, he was reelected to Congress.

The end of the battle came in 1800 when Thomas Jefferson was elected president. He gained many votes due to his opposition of the Alien and Sedition Acts. After being elected, he put an end to them. The final nail in the coffin of the Alien and Sedition Acts came when Jefferson pardoned every person that was convicted of violating the acts.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

This nation was founded on the idea of freedom. It was important that we as a country did not start giving up our freedoms right after winning them. The greatest Americans have always been those that fought for what was right for the country. It seems like whenever the United States need someone to step up and fight for the good of our country, they get it, and this time it was no different.

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