The Story of Civil Liberty in the United States

By Leon Whipple | Go to book overview
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THE STORY OF CIVIL LIBERTY IN THE UNITED STATES

CHAPTER I
FIRST INTERPRETATIONS

WHOEVER has power has civil liberty. Any one who has studied civil liberty in the history of the United States must remain convinced of this. Even before there was a United States the truth was proven.

The Declaration of Independence is evidence of how few liberties our Colonial forefathers enjoyed as long as the English were in power. The whole pre-Revolutionary struggle was for civil liberty, whether the ancient and inherited rights of the English subject, or the more philosophical "natural rights." The Americans held the tyrant up to high heaven for denying these "inalienable possessions of every human being." But the very day the balance of power began to swing to the Colonists, these libertarians promptly began to deny these "inalienable rights" to their late oppressors, now the new minority --the Tories. And forgetting the very rock of their faith, religious liberty, they later persecuted the Quakers, not for back-sliding, but for acting too literally on the words of Jesus.

For example note how freedom of the press followed the shift in power. In 1722 the Crown government of Massachusetts sent James Franklin--Benjamin's brother--to jail, practically for lèse majesté: but in 1754 the Colonial assembly was strong enough to imprison one Daniel Fowle, a Boston publisher, upon suspicion that he had printed remarks derogatory to some members of the people's legislature. Ideal free

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