Fredrick Seaton Siebert's Freedom of the Press in England, 1476–1776: The Rise and Decline of Government Control (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1952) provides a detailed account of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in England before the American Revolution. The first chapter of Leonard Levy's Emer- gence of a Free Press (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985) provides a brief, yet authoritative discussion of the English understanding of free speech before the American Revolution, with an emphasis on the law of seditious libel. Philip Hamburger's “The Development of the Law of Seditious Libel and the Control of the Press,” Stanford Law Review 37 (1985): 661–765, is a detailed examination of the English approach to the freedom of speech before the American Revolution, emphasizing the importance of the law of seditious libel in the eighteenth, rather than the seventeenth century. For a very good, brief summary of the English historical background to the freedom of speech, see William T. Mayton, “Seditious Libel and the Lost Guarantee of a Freedom of Expression,” Columbia Law Review 84 (1984): 91–142, pp. 97–108.
Zechariah Chafee, Jr., a leading First Amendment legal scholar, for many years led scholars generally to accept the view that American colonials, and thus the framers of the First Amendment, broadly embraced the right of individuals to