Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, 1870-1920

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Cambridge University Press, 1997 - History - 422 pages
Freedom of speech is a central tenet of the American way of life that is tested and fought over seemingly every day. Curiously, people who follow and study free speech issues assume that controversies and litigation about free speech began abruptly during World War I. The surprising research in this original book reveals that this conventional view is incorrect, and that the previously unknown history of free speech between the Civil War and World War I is rich and varied. For instance, the author shows that important free speech controversies, often involving the activities of sex reformers and labor unions, preceded the Espionage Act of 1917. A significant organization, the Free Speech League, became a principled defender of free expression two decades before the establishment of the ACLU in 1920. Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years uncovers a major episode in the history of American liberal thought. Furthermore, it sheds light on key current debates about "rights talk" and about the complicated historical enterprise of studying ideas over time. It should be of interest to people who follow free speech and civil liberties issues as well as people involved in women's and labor history.

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Free speech in its forgotten years

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Challenging the view that free speech controversies and court cases effectively began during World War I, Rabban (law, Univ. of Texas, Austin) focuses on free speech issues between the Civil War and ... Read full review

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