The Pulse of Freedom: American Liberties: 1920-1970s

The Pulse of Freedom: American Liberties: 1920-1970s

The Pulse of Freedom: American Liberties: 1920-1970s

The Pulse of Freedom: American Liberties: 1920-1970s

Excerpt

We are living through a period when respect for accumulated knowledge does not occupy the high station it once did. The existentialist emphasis on the current "happening," in the lives of people and of nations, all too frequently downgrades the importance of history, and elevates today's events to the pinnacle of the "real truth." Yet, as knowledge and information are prime requisites in the struggle to achieve and exercise freedom, the past record of personal experience and historical incident is essential. Only if we know the ingredients of the struggle, its depth and breadth, its glories and failures, its human and inhuman elements, can we understand the full meaning of freedom, how it can be won, preserved, and extended.

This maxim applies particularly to the story of civil liberties, a continuing saga throughout history of the individual's neverceasing effort to attain those "natural rights" which inhere to man despite centuries of subjection to tyrannical rule and oppression. Though it seems, in the torrid pace and proliferating pressures of modern life, a mere wisp in history's memory, the rudiments of due process wrested from King John by England's barons in Magna Carta, or the publishing freedom secured by the end of royal licensing of books, are not too far distant from the here-and-now battles to widen the bounds of fair trial and preserve freedom of the press. Similarly, in our own country, Jefferson's rejection of the Alien and Sedition Acts as violations of free speech and association, and John Brown and the abolitionists' fiery abhorrence of slavery, were . . .

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