Comm 454-001 / 9-22-03

Chapter 1+2 Timeline




   ENGLAND                                                 COLONIES/U.S.

1275 – Sedition was made illegal by Parliament

1612 – Governor Dale of Virginia is authority of Church and State

1450 – Johann Gutenberg’s printing press was made.

1635 – Massachusetts legislature banished Baptist Roger Williams for disseminating dangerous opinions against the government

1476 – William Claxton set up first printing press in England

1660 – Virginia imprisoned some people for speaking seditious words

1482 – Defamation suits begin to be heard

Late 1660’s – Many arrests occurred for seditious speech

1520 – Heretical books came from the Colonies.  Clergy established a licensing to control printing presses

1720 – Prior Restraint recorded in Massachusetts

1531 – Henry VIII abolished the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England.  The merger of church and state was now official

1725 – Licensing was no longer an issue

1535 – Private Libel cases are heard

1735 – Trial of newspaper publisher, John Zenger.  The jury was sympathetic and voted not guilty.  Now, truth could be used as a defense.

1538 – Printed materials needed the approval of the crown

1776 – Declaration of Independence

1542 – Council and Star Chamber pursued those who published seditious opinions

1788 – Draft of the Bill of Rights was made.

1557 – Queen Mary strengthened licensing system with Stationery’s Company.  England had its first copyright laws

1790 – Copyright Act

1564 – 1st index of banned books

1791 – Ratification of Bill of Rights; Freedom of speech becomes official government policy

1644 – John Milton’s Areopagitica published without a license.  Dealt with unruly censorship of the press and prior restraint issues

1798 – Alien and Sedition Acts

1689 – English Bill of Rights expanded freedom of speech to Parliament during legislative session only

1815 – 1st persecution of obscenity

1774 – Copyright was no longer the publisher’s right but the right of the author

1865 – Postal Act. Obscene material not permitted in US mail

1792 – Fox’s Libel Act.  Truth was acceptable as a defense

1873 – Comstock Act. Deals with obscene material in the mail including material such as birth control and abortion

1860 – Freedom of speech was accepted by the government of England

1834 – Wheaton v Peters. Landmark copyright case upholding the Constitution to create copyright regulations by statute.  Copyright is whatever Congress says it is.

1868 – Hicklin Rule.  It determined obscenity.

1939 – Davis v. Massachusetts. Massachusetts state requires you to have a permit if you want to speak openly on public property


* Dates with the same color relate to each other.  Black colored dates are not related but are important.