The Press of the Young Republic, 1783-1833

By Carol Sue Humphrey | Go to book overview

state advertisement tax, saw no problem with the national postal duty. His only comment was that the bill provided for the establishment of a post road from Worcester to Providence, Rhode Island. 74 Clearly, at least in Massachusetts, distance from the government in question made a difference in evaluating the issue of a free press and how much it needed protection. Other states that supported amending the new Constitution included protection for the press among their suggestions, but none of them made a big issue of their concern. A centerpiece of the Constitution for modern-day journalists apparently made it into the law of the land more by accident than plan. Only after its adoption would the press provision of the First Amendment acquire importance in the arena of civil liberties and freedom of expression.


NOTES
1.
Independent Gazetteer ( Philadelphia), 5 October 1787.
2.
James Madison's notes constitute the most complete record of the debates of the Constitutional Convention. See James Madison, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Adrienne Koch ( Athens: Ohio University Press, 1966), 485-87.
3.
Virginia adopted its first state constitution in 1776. The Declaration of Rights formed the introduction. This document, which heavily influenced both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, provided protection for freedom of speech, the press, and religion, as well as restrictions against jury trials and unlawful searches.
4.
Madison, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, 630.
5.
Ibid., 640.
6.
James Madison, The Complete Madison: His Basic Writings, ed. Saul K. Padover ( New York: Harper, 1953), 253.
7.
Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd et al., 25 vols. to date ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1950-), 12:440.
8.
Ibid., 12:569-70.
9.
Ibid., 12:282.
10.
Margaret A. Blanchard, "Freedom of the Press, 1690-1804," in The Media in America, 2nd ed., ed. Wm. David Sloan, James G. Stovall, and James D. Startt ( Scottsdale, Ariz.: Publishing Horizons, 1993), 110; Edward Dumbauld, The Bill of Rights and What It Means Today ( Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), 10-33.
11.
Robert Allan Rutland, James Madison: The Founding Father ( New York: Macmillan, 1987),47-49.
12.
Dumbauld, The Bill of Rights, 33-44.
13.
Ibid., 44-50. The First Amendment does not have a special place in the hierarchy of rights because it is "first." The order of the amendments had no special significance, either as proposed or as ratified. James Madison had tried to put them in a sort of hierarchical order, but Congress failed to follow his suggestions and sent them to the states for ratification in a haphazard order that did not consciously go from the most important rights to the least important rights. When considering the First Amendment specifically, one finds that it was just one among many. As originally written by Congress, what became the First Amendment was actually the third proposal. The amendment protecting freedom of belief and expression became the First Amendment only because the states did not ratify the two

-36-

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The Press of the Young Republic, 1783-1833
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also Available in the History of American Journalism ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Series Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - A New Era Begins: The Confederation, 1783-1789 1
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - The Adoption of the Bill of Rights, 1789-1791 27
  • Notes 36
  • 3 - The First Political Party System, 1791-1800 41
  • 4 - The Challenge of the Sedition Act, 1798-1800 57
  • Notes 68
  • 5 - The Age of Jefferson, 1800-1808 71
  • Notes 81
  • 6 - The War of 1812 1809-1815 85
  • Notes 95
  • 7 - The Era of Good Feelings, 1815-1824 99
  • 8 - The Age of Jackson, 1824-1833 113
  • Notes 129
  • 9 - Changes in Journalism, 1800-1833 133
  • Notes 150
  • 10 - Reflections on the Press of the Young Republic 155
  • Note 160
  • Bibliographical Essay 161
  • Sources 167
  • Index 177
  • About the Author 183
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