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Repressive jurisprudence in the early American republic : the First Amendment and the legacy of English law

Blumberg, Phillip I., 1919-

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  • Creator Phillip I. Blumberg
  • Format Books
  • Publication Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Physical Details
    • xiv, 410 pages ; 24 cm
  • ISBNs 0521191351, 9780521191357
  • OCLC ocn496964519


  • "This volume seeks to explain how American society, which had been capable of noble aspirations such as those in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was capable of adopting one of the most widely deplored statutes of our history, the Sedition Act of 1798. It examines how the political ideals of the American Revolution were undermined by the adoption of repressive doctrines of the English monarchial system - the criminalization of criticism against the king, the Parliament, the judiciary, and Christianity. Freedom of speech was dramatically confined, and this law remained unchallenged until well into the twentieth century. This book will be of keen interest to all concerned with the Early Republic, freedom of speech, and evolution of American constitutional jurisprudence. Because it addresses the much-criticized Sedition Act of 1798, one of the most dramatic illustrations of this repressive jurisprudence, the book will also be of interest to Americans concerned about preserving free speech in wartime"--


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Political and jurisprudential worlds in conflict in the new Republic -- Politics in the new Republic -- Criminal libel in the colonies, the states, and the early Republic during the Washington administration -- Federalist partisan use of seditious libel : statutory and common law : during the tumultuous Adams administration -- Criminal libel during the Jefferson and Madison administrations 1800-1816 -- Partisan prosecutions for criminal libel in the state courts : federalists against republicans, republicans against federalists, and republicans against dissident republicans in struggles for party control -- Established jurisprudential doctrines (other than criminal libel) available in the New Republic for suppression of anti-establishment speech -- Still other nineteenth-century doctrines for suppression of anti-establishment speech : the law of blasphemy and the slave-state anti-abolition statutes -- Conclusion