Patrick Barton and Christine Haynes

Freedom of Speech in the United States (Tedford and Herbeck)

Sept. 3, 2003


Outline of Chapter One




Chapter One -- Freedom of Speech: English Heritage


I.                    Limited Freedom of Speech began with Ancient Greeks and Romans


II.                 In England, civil liberties (but not specifically Freedom of Speech) began in 1215 with the Magna Carta



III.               Control of Communicators

a.       Monarchy and Clergy were first to have absolute freedom of speech

b.      Parliament followed in 1689

c.       Civil liberties for select individuals followed in late 17th to early 18th century


IV.              Control of Content--Libel

a.       Sedition -- criticism of government

b.      Blasphemy -- heretical opinions and obscene writings

c.       Defamation -- lying about another individual


V.                 Technological restraints -- licensing and copyright

a.       1450 -- Gutenberg’s printing press enabled mass reproduction

b.      Licensing -- a form of “prior restraint”

c.       Earliest copyright laws established by Queen Mary I, then again, 150 years later by Parliament


VI.              What happened?

a.       In the late 17th-18th century, opposition to licensing arose

b.      John Milton’s famous Areopagitica -- unlicensed, outline reasons for abolishing prior restraint


Questions to provoke discussion:

What was the monarchy (and clergy) trying to do by restraining free speech/press?


How did the English ideas of freedom of speech/press affect the founders of the U.S.?


Are there any holdovers from English laws to American? (i.e. prior restraint, copyright)