The First Amendment in War
W ILLIAM T. SHERMAN threatened to hang several reporters. He banished a number from his army. He even court-martialled one correspondent. On numerous occasions, newspapermen wrote that Sherman was insane. Throughout the Civil War, this famous general battled the press in a conflict that in intensity rivaled the fighting between Union and Confederate soldiers. The controversy focused on one issue: the meaning of the term "freedom of the press."
Throughout American history, First Amendment guarantees have been interpreted differently, and the question of press freedoms especially has been hotly debated. American newspapers, as agencies of information as well as opinion and argumentation, have frequently come under attack, and the meaning of the constitutional guarantee has been questioned. What responsibilities accompany a newspaper's privileges? How can the right of the American people to a free press (i.e., the right to