Category Archives: American Government

Dorothy Day on Freedom of the Press

The Daily Worker Case
Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1956.

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During Holy Week, at noon one day, revenue agents suddenly raided the offices of The Daily Worker, Communist paper, evicting its editors, padlocking the doors, saying that this action was because of unpaid taxes. The editors claimed that there were no taxes due and that what the revenue agents wanted was a glimpse at their files, the names of those who were contributing to make up their deficits, and their subscription lists. They have appealed the case to the courts, and protested to the President that this action was an infringement on freedom of the press and so a violation of guaranteed constitutional liberties. It was a sudden gesture, totally unexpected by all those concerned and the result was an immediate protest on the part of radicals, liberals and a number of other Americans including plenty of other daily papers who were not afraid of the stigma of guilt by association and who believe that openness, free discussion of ideas can never harm our way of life, or our Christian ideals. During that great season of Holy Week, which this year began with the feast of the Annunciation (there is no time with God) which celebrates God becoming man, taking upon Himself our weak flesh, becoming like unto us in all things save only sin, all I could think of was that God loved each one of us so particularly that He bore our sins, died for our sins, conquered death, gave us hope. If we believe and hope in Him and I trust are trying to grow in love of Him, we must try to reflect a little of this Christ love and trust and mercy in dealing with our fellows, friend and enemy. At times like this we can’t get much further than seeing our own sins, our own guilt, especially since we as a country seem to be trying to outdo Russia in ways of killing off as many people as possible with guided missiles. One thing which will guarantee a continuance of the arms race is to play up a spirit of fear and such raids as that on The Daily Worker is as much calculated to inspire that fear of ever present menace and danger in our midst among the citizenry in general as it is to outlaw the Communist or make existence difficult for him. (We are not trying to judge the case only as a tax case, and don’t know anything about political parties and their payment of taxes. We are dealing with this matter from the standpoint of the newspaper alone.) dorothyday

The Holy Father in his Easter message says that not to “every appearance of faith is guaranteed the victory,” and that appearance of faith he defines as “the vague sense of Christianity,
flabby and empty, which remains on the outer threshold of conviction in the mind and of love in the heart. It is not set into the whole structure of life whether public or private. . . . true peace is not a state of repose like death, but rather the power and activity of life.” We are taught that it is a sin to keep silent when we should speak out in defense of the right, thus consenting to wrong . . . that God turns even malice and wrong doing to His own ends . . . that we must be ready to uphold truth at whatever cost to ourselves . . . that it is only the truth that can imbue men’s hearts with true freedom. So with all these things in mind we sent the following message to the editors of The Daily Worker: We at the Catholic Worker express our sympathy to The Daily Worker in the eviction they have suffered even though their beliefs are contrary to our own. Freedom of the press is a concept fundamental to Jeffersonians and libertarians and freedom in general is essentially a religious concept. The Smith Act itself shows that our country is so superficially religious that it is not willing to take the risk and consequences of a faith in freedom and man’s use of it. (In a lighter vein), if we only had the space and could be truly charitable and hospitable we would offer the use of our offices and even of our mailing list, since the bureaucrats have confiscated yours, and we are sure that we would risk nothing in such a gesture but achieve a healthful clarification of thought. Yours for a green and peaceful revolution.

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Molly Ivins CAN Say That

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Molly Ivins
JANUARY 4, 2007
The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck — so it’s up to us. You and me, Bubba.

I don’t know why Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it’s time we found out. The fact is WE have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped NOW.

This war is being prosecuted in our names, with our money, with our blood, against our will. Polls consistently show that less than 30 percent of the people want to maintain current troop levels. It is obscene and wrong for the president to go against the people in this fashion. And it’s doubly wrong for him to send 20,0000 more soldiers into this hellhole, as he reportedly will announce next week.

What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn’t supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny? Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?

It’s a monstrous idea to put people in prison and keep them there. Since 1215, civil authorities have been obligated to tell people with what they are charged if they’re arrested. This administration has done away with rights first enshrined in the Magna Carta nearly 800 years ago, and we’ve, let them do it.

This will be a regular feature of mine, like an old-fashioned newspaper campaign. Every column, I’ll write about this war until we find some way to end it. STOP IT NOW. BAM! Every day, we will review some factor we should have gotten right.

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So let’s take a step back and note, for example, that before the war one of the architects of the entire policy, Paul Wolfowitz, testified to Congress that Iraq had no history of ethnic strife. Sectarian and ethnic strife is a part of the region. And the region is full of examples of Western colonial powers trying to occupy countries, take their resources and take over the administration of their people — and failing.

The sectarian bloodbath we see daily completely refutes Wolfowitz. And now Bush has given him the World Bank to run. Wonder what he’ll do there.

And let’s keep in mind that when the Army arrived in Baghdad, we, the television viewers, watched footage of a bunch of enraged and joyous Iraqis pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein, their repulsive dictator, in Firdos Square. Only one thing was wrong. The event was staged. Taking down the statue was instigated by a Marine colonel, and a PSYOP (psychological operations) unit made it appear to be a spontaneous show of Iraqi joy.

When we later saw the whole square where the statue was located, only 30 to 40 people were there (U.S. soldiers, press and some Iraqis — and one of several U.S. tanks present pulled the statue down with a cable). We, the television viewers, saw the square being presented as though the people of Iraq had gone into a frenzy, mobbed the square and spontaneously pulled down the statue. Fake images and claims have been a part of this fiasco from the beginning.

We need to cut through all this smoke and mirrors and come up with an exit strategy, forthwith. The Democrats have yet to offer a cohesive plan to get us out of this mess. Of course, it’s not their fault — but the fact is we need leaders who are grown-ups and who are willing to try to fix it. Bush has ignored the actual grown-ups from the Iraq Study Group and the generals and all other experts who are nearly unanimous in the opinion that more troops will not help.

So, like I said, it’s up to you and me, Bubba. We need to make sure that the new Congress curbs executive power, which has been so misused, and asserts its own power to make this situation change. Now.

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A 19th Century Investigative Reporter

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885) was a poet, novelist and essayist who became an advocate for Native American rights, fighting for improved treatment of Natives by the US government. She detailed the adverse effects of previous actions taken against Indian tribes in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona dramatized the in Southern California and attracted considerable attention to her cause.

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 18, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, the daughter of Nathan Welby Fiske and Deborah Vinal Fiske, a writer. Nathan Fiske was professor of Language and Philosophy at Amherst College. Helen had a sister Anne and two brothers, both of whom died soon after birth.
Deborah Fiske died of tuberculosis in 1844 when Helen was fourteen. Nathan Fiske died in 1847 in Jerusalem while on a trip to the Holy Land, but he had provided for her education and had arranged for an aunt to care for her.

Helen attended the highly regarded Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Institute, a boarding school run by Reverend J.S.C. Abbott in New York City, receiving an excellent education for the times. At Abbott, Helen was a classmate of one of America’s most distinguished poets Emily Dickinson, also from Amherst. The two remained close and corresponded for the rest of their lives, but few of their letters have survived.

Family
In 1852 at age 22, Helen married Edward Bissell Hunt, a captain in the U.S. Corps of Engineers. For the next 11 years, she and her husband followed the typically mobile life of a career military family. They had two sons, one of whom, Murray Hunt, died as an infant in 1854 of a brain disease.

The Civil War years were not kind to Helen and her family. In 1863 her husband was killed in an accident while experimenting with a one-man submarine he had invented. Her only surviving son, Horsford “Rennie” Hunt, died of diphtheria in 1865 at age nine.

In the winter of 1873-1874 on her doctor’s advice Helen visited Colorado Springs, Colorado in search of a cure for a respiratory ailment when she met a wealthy local banker and railroad executive William Sharpless Jackson. She married Jackson on October 22, 1875 and made Colorado her home. They had no children.

Literary Career
After losing all her family members, Helen took up residence in Newport, Rhode Island, where she and her husband had previously been stationed. After meeting Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a soldier, social reformer and author, Jackson decided to seriously pursue a writing career. With Higginson’s support, her initial literary efforts were devoted to children’s stories, travel sketches, poetry and essays under the pseudonyms “H.H.”

Helen Hunt Jackson became perhaps the most prolific woman writer of her era in the country. Many of her pieces appeared in the New York Independent, Nation, Atlantic and other periodicals. Her early work also included a volume of poetry, Verses (1870). Ralph Waldo Emerson admired her poetry and used several of her poems in his public readings. He included five of them in his anthology Parnassus.

From 1875 to 1877, Jackson published three novels, including Hetty’s Strange History and Mercy Philbrick’s Choice, in which Emily Dickinson was part-model for the heroine. In time, Jackson would produce more than 30 books and hundreds of articles. She most likely would have become better known without the pseudonyms, but popular convention of the time dictated that female writers conceal their true identity.

On a trip back east in 1879 Jackson attended a lecture in Boston by the Ponca Chief Standing Bear, who described the forcible removal of the Ponca Indians from their Nebraska reservation and transfer to the Quapaw Reservation in Indian Territory, where they suffered from disease, climate and poor supplies. This piqued her interest.

Jackson promised to help raise funds for the Ponca People so they could return to their homeland. She wrote a friend, “I have done now, I believe, the last of the things I have said I would never do. I have become what I have said a thousand times was the most odious thing in the world – a woman with a cause.”

Social Reform
Although Jackson continued her other writing, the Native Americans became her primary concern. Upset about the mistreatment of American Indians by government agents, Jackson started investigating and publicizing government misconduct, circulating petitions, raising money for lawsuits and writing letters to the New York Times, attempting to arouse public opinion on behalf of the Indians’ deteriorating condition.

She engaged in heated exchanges with federal officials over the injustices committed against American Indians. Among her special targets was US Secretary of Interior Carl Schurz, whom she once called “the most adroit liar I ever knew.” She exposed the government’s violation of treaties with the Indian tribes and documented the corruption of US Indian agents, military officers and settlers who encroached on and stole Indian lands. The book caused a national sensation.

Jackson’s political activism won the support of several newspaper editors who published her reports about broken treaties, dishonest deals and unfulfilled promises. Among them were William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent, Richard Watson Guilder of the Century Magazine and publisher Whitelaw Reid of the New York Daily Tribune.

In 1881 she wrote what she considered her most important book, A Century of Dishonor. She sent a copy of the book to each member of Congress with a quote from Benjamin Franklin printed in red on the cover: “Look upon your hands: they are stained with the blood of your relations.” The book condemned state and federal Indian policy, detailed the history of broken treaties and called for significant reform in government policy toward Native Americans.

The New York Times later wrote that she:

soon made enemies at Washington by her often unmeasured attacks, and while on general lines she did some good, her case was weakened by her inability, in some cases, to substantiate the charges she had made; hence many who were at first sympathetic fell away.

Jackson went to southern California for rest. Having been interested in the area’s mission and the Mission Indians on an earlier visit, she began an in-depth study. Under its original land grants, the Mexican government provided for resident Indians to continue to occupy the mission lands. After taking control of the territory in 1848, US policies led to their removal from mission lands.

In 1882 President Chester A. Arthur appointed Jackson, along with translator Abbott Kinney, Special Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1882 – the first woman to hold that position. Her assignment was to visit the Mission Indians in Southern California, ascertain the location and condition of various bands, and determine what lands should be purchased for their use.

In 1883 Jackson and Kinney published their 56-page report, which recommended extensive government relief for the Mission Indians, including the purchase of new lands for reservations and the establishment of more Indian schools. Jackson’s call for “some atonement” for past neglect and injustice was not acted upon by government authorities.

Inspired by her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jackson wrote:

I am going to write a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian experiences in a way to move people’s hearts. People will read a novel when they will not read serious books. If I could write a story that would do for the Indian one-hundredth part what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for the Negro, I would be thankful the rest of my life.

Although Jackson started an outline in California, she began writing the novel in December 1883 in a New York hotel room, and completed it in about three months. Originally titled In The Name of the Law, she published it as Ramona (1884). The story features Ramona, an orphan girl who was half Indian and half Scots and her Indian husband Alessandro, and their struggles for land of their own.

Ramona dramatized the mistreatment of Indians in Southern California, although its popularity was based on its romantic and picturesque qualities rather than its political content. The characters were based on people known by Jackson and incidents which she had encountered. The book achieved rapid success among a wide audience and was popular for generations; it was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times.

A fall at her Colorado Springs home in June 1884 left Jackson with a severely fractured leg. However, she returned to California to visit friends and continue writing. While there, she was diagnosed with cancer, and never returned to Colorado.

Her last letter was written to President Grover Cleveland:

From my death bed I send you a message of heartfelt thanks for what you have already done for the Indians. I ask you to read my Century of Dishonor. I am dying happier for the belief I have that it is your hand that is destined to strike the first steady blow toward lifting this burden of infamy from our country and righting the wrongs of the Indian race.

Helen Hunt Jackson died of stomach cancer on August 12, 1885 in San Francisco, California. Her husband arranged for her burial on a one-acre plot on a high plateau overlooking Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her grave was later moved to Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. Her estate was valued at $12,642.

One year after her death the North American Review called Ramona “unquestionably the best novel yet produced by an American woman” and named it, along with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of two most ethical novels of the 19th century. Sixty years after its publication, 600,000 copies had been sold. There have been over 300 reissues to date and the book has never been out of print.

Helen was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman in her time.” She rose above personal tragedy and became one of the most successful writers of her day. She included as her friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Through her dedication to Indian reform during the last five years of her life, she wrote herself into American history.

We Need A Free Press and Free Speech

Police are threatening free expression by abusing the law to punish disrespect of law enforcement

Camille Fassett
Reporter

July 31, 2018

In May 2016, a pair of police officers with the New York City Police Department ticketed Shyam Patel for his car’s tinted windows in Times Square. After parking his car, Patel raised his middle finger at them in response.

The NYPD officers then approached Patel and asked for his identification. When Patel asked what crime he was suspected of committing, he alleges that one officer told him, “You cannot gesture as such…”

When Patel insisted that freedom of speech did grant him the right, Patel alleges that the officer said that he could not curse a police officer, grabbed his phone, and again demanded identification. Patel was arrested and charged of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

While the charges were later dropped, Patel is suing the officers for violation of his First Amendment right to free expression. No law prohibits swearing at or flipping off a police officer, and it seems clear that law enforcement were in the wrong. But Patel’s case is only the latest incident of police officers abusing the law and their positions of power to punish people critical or disrespectful of law enforcement.

In 2009, a black man returned to his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts from travels abroad to find his door tightly shut. He, along with his taxi driver, forced the door open. Soon after, police arrived to his residence to respond to a reported burglary.

It’s unclear what words exactly were exchanged, but the man was arrested for “loud and tumultuous behavior”. A report by the officer in question indicated that the man merely used harsh language and called the officer a racist.

If the circumstances were different, this incident may not have made the headlines it did—countless people of color are accused of criminal activity for walking upon their own sidewalks or entering into their own homes. But the man was Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a professor at Harvard University and friend of newly elected President Obama. The details of his arrest quickly made waves across the country.

Coverage of the incident focused on concerns of racial profiling, but it was about free speech, too. Gates was arrested not for breaking and entering, but for disorderly conduct after he used harsh language at the officer—just like Patel in New York. Civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate has called disorderly conduct law enforcement’s “charge of choice” for when a citizen gives lip to a cop.

These types of cases are a still regular occurrence, despite the landmark 1974 court case Lewis v. New Orleans, where the Supreme Court struck down a city ordinance that outlawed “obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to” a police officer. At that time, the court noted that a “properly trained police officer may reasonably be expected to exercise a higher degree of restraint” than private citizens.

Despite the Supreme Court’s clear ruling on this issue, police in Pennsylvania are using the state’s version of a “hate crime” law to prosecute multiple people who say offensive things to them when they are arrested. These laws are intended to protect the vulnerable, but are instead being wielded as a tool by powerful government entities.

Robbie Sanderson, a 52 year old black man, was arrested for retail theft near Pittsburgh in September 2016. During his arrest, he called the police “Nazis” and “skinheads”, and said that “all you cops just shoot people for no reason.” He was charged with felony ethnic intimidation.

Later that year, Senatta Amoroso became agitated at a police station, and was arrested for disorderly conduct and knocked to the ground. According to the ACLU, she yelled while handcuffed in a jail cell: “Death to all you white bitches. I’m going to kill all you white bitches. I hope ISIS kills all you white bitches.” Her six charges included a felony assault charge for hitting an officer in the arm and felony ethnic intimidation.

Sanderson and Amoroso’s cases are just two of many of Pennsylvania law enforcement agents slapping disrespectful arrestees with “hate crime” charges. These people yelled speech that officers found offensive, but they were handcuffed and posed no physical threat to anyone.

Pennsylvania’s “ethnic intimidation” charge works similarly to “hate crime” laws in other states, which generally enhance penalties for perpetrators when victims were targeted for discrimanatory reasons. (“Hate speech” laws technically do not exist in the United States.) Although hate crimes statutes were enacted to protect minorities, they can and are being enforced to protect powerful groups like police.

Nadine Strossen, a professor at New York Law School who was previously president of the ACLU, is not surprised that police are abusing “hate crime” laws to punish disrespect. She thinks these cases, in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, all show the same pattern of such laws being wielded against the people they were intended to protect—minorities, and people who lack political power.

She noted that during the civil rights movement, police would charge people protesting injustice with whatever they could—with “resisting arrest”, “disorderly conduct”, or “fighting words”, all of which Strossen calls “catch-all” crimes.

Strossen thinks that the way police abuse “hate crime” laws reveals the inherent problematic nature of legislation that attempts to single out specific identities. “There’s this hydrologic pressure once you have any hate crime or hate speech law. Additional pressures to expand this definition emerge, until the question becomes: ‘Who is not included?'”

In Strossen’s new book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, not Censorship, she argues that hate speech laws in many European countries have ended up stifling the speech of the vulnerable populations they are intended to protect. She cautions that these recent examples show how hate crime laws can potentially be used for similar purposes in the United States, and that pushing for hate speech laws can backfire.

While the first hate crime laws in the United States were targeted to race and religion, they have expanded to include other categories like gender and sexual orientation. There is concern that powerful groups like police officers are co-opting these laws to shield themselves from scrutiny or criticism. It’s a pattern not unique to the United States—she referenced a recent proposal in South Africa that considered adding “occupation” to a list of protected classes. “Could this include police and politicians, and government officials?”

Some U.S. policymakers are already aiming to officially establish police as a “protected” class of people. This May, the House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act, which would make assaulting a police officer a federal crime. The Senate’s version of this bill even frames attacks on police as federal hate crimes.

These legislative efforts at the federal level follow on the heels of so-called “Blue Lives Matter” bills already passed in states including Kentucky and Louisiana. And while the federal bill applies to physical attacks on police, the state level laws have been enforced upon mere language hostile to police.

During an arrest on unrelated charges in 2016, a man in New Orleans yelled insults at officers and was slapped with additional charges. In a post about this incident, the ACLU of Louisiana wrote that “While racist, sexist, and other similar language may show a lack of respect for law enforcement, it is the job of the police to protect even the rights of those whose opinions they don’t share.”

These bills are not only unnecessary (attacking police officers is already a crime) but also actively harmful.

“The point is clear, especially with regards to the adoption of hate crime statute frameworks: to reinforce the myth of the police as vulnerable and embattled,” Natasha Lennard wrote about “the Protect and Serve Act” for The Intercept.

Recent incidents in Pennsylvania, New York, and Louisiana are part of a long and disturbing history of police abusing the law to punish speech they find unfavorable. It’s deeply concerning for free expression that police feel empowered to add additional charges to arrestees because of the words that they yell while being handcuffed, and legislation that makes police a protected class only amplifies the police’s ability to silence dissent and intimidate critics.

Freedom of the Press ~ It’s Essential

In every State, probably, in the Union, the press has exerted a freedom in canvassing the merits and measures of public men of every description which has not been confined to the strict limits of the common law. On this footing the freedom of the press has stood; on this footing it yet stands. . . . Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of everything, and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press. It has accordingly been decided by the practice of the States that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding the proper fruits. And can the wisdom of this policy be doubted by any who reflect that to the press alone, chequered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression; who reflect that to the same beneficent source the United States owe much of the lights which conducted them to the ranks of a free and independent nation, and which have improved their political system into a shape so auspicious to their happiness? ~ James Madison (1751– 1836)

Free Press in the United States

Ida Tarbell helped transform journalism by introducing what is called today investigative journalism. Through her achievements, she not only helped to expand the role of the newspaper in modern society and stimulate the Progressive reform movement, but she also became a role model for women wishing to become professional journalists.

Born on the oil frontier of western Pennsylvania in 1857, Tarbell was among the first women to graduate from Allegheny College in 1880. After trying her hand at the more traditional women’s job of teaching, Tarbell began writing and editing a magazine for the Methodist Church. Then, after studying in France for a few years, she joined S. S. McClure’s new reform-minded magazine in 1894. Initially she wrote two popular biographical series–on Napoleon and Abraham Lincoln. In 1902, she embarked on her ground breaking study of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, or what was called the Standard Oil Trust. Her History of the Standard Oil Company, published in 1904, was a landmark work of expos√© journalism that became known as “muckraking.” Her exposure of Rockefeller’s unfair business methods outraged the public and led the government to prosecute the company for violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. As a result, after years of precedent-setting litigation, the Supreme Court upheld the break-up of Standard Oil.

As the most famous woman journalist of her time, Tarbell founded the American Magazine in 1906. She authored biographies of several important businessmen and wrote a series of articles about an extremely controversial issue of her day, the tariff imposed on goods imported from foreign countries. Of this series President Wilson commented, “She has written more good sense, good plain common sense, about the tariff than any man I know of.” During World War I, she joined the efforts to improve the plight of working women. In 1922, The New York Times named her one of the “Twelve Greatest American Women.” It was journalism like hers that inspired Americans of the early twentieth century to seek reform in our government, in our economic structures, and in our urban areas. Along with other muckrakers like Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, and Upton Sinclair, Tarbell ushered in reform journalism. Ever since, newspapers have played a leading role as the watchdogs and consciences of our political, economic, and social lives.

Although Tarbell was not, herself, an advocate of women’s issues or women’s rights, as the most prominent woman active in the muckraking movement and one of the most respected business historians of her generation, Tarbell succeeded in a “male” world ‚Äì the world of journalism, business analysis, and world affairs, thus helping to open the door to other women seeking careers in journalism and, later, in broadcasting.

Free Press in the United States

William Lloyd Garrison’s opening editorial in THE LIBERATOR, January 1, 1831

During my recent tour for the purpose of exciting the minds of the people by a series of discourses on the subject of slavery, every place that I visited gave fresh evidence of the fact, that a greater revolution in public sentiment was to be effected in the free states — and particularly in New-England — than at the south. I found contempt more bitter, opposition more active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn, and apathy more frozen, than among slave owners themselves. Of course, there were individual exceptions to the contrary. This state of things afflicted, but did not dishearten me. I determined, at every hazard, to lift up the standard of emancipation in the eyes of the nation, within sight of Bunker Hill and in the birth place of liberty. That standard is now unfurled; and long may it float, unhurt by the spoliations of time or the missiles of a desperate foe — yea, till every chain be broken, and every bondman set free! Let southern oppressors tremble — let their secret abettors tremble — let their northern apologists tremble — let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble.

I deem the publication of my original Prospectus unnecessary, as it has obtained a wide circulation. The principles therein inculcated will be steadily pursued in this paper, excepting that I shall not array myself as the political partisan of any man. In defending the great cause of human rights, I wish to derive the assistance of all religions and of all parties.

Assenting to the “self-evident truth” maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. In Park-street Church, on the Fourth of July, 1829, in an address on slavery, I unreflectingly assented to the popluar but pernicious doctrine of gradual abolition. I seize this opportunity to make a full and unequivocal recantation, and thus publicly to ask pardon of my God, of my country, and of my brethren the poor slaves, for having uttered a sentiment so full of timidity, injustice and absurdity. A similar recantation, from my pen, was published in the Genius of Universal Emancipation at Baltimore, in September, 1829. My consicence in now satisfied.

I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

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The free press is not the enemy of the people but rather the enemy of tyrants!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Have History~ The Free Press

Things the current administration needs to know:
The Trial of John Peter Zenger
On April 16th, 1735, the New York Supreme Court met in the second floor courtroom of New York City Hall. After attorneys James Alexander and William Smith, who were also Popular Party members, had attempted to represent John Peter Zenger at his trial, the Court decided to disbar both of them. The court did this because it was known that no attorney in the Province of New York would be as bold in the defense of John Peter Zenger as Alexander and Smith. A man named John Chambers was then assigned as a counsel for Zenger and entered a plea of not guilty. Chambers was a young man with little law experience in law. He was also complementary of Governor William Cosby’s administration.

Alexander and Smith searched for the most experienced trial attorney in the colonies and selected a man by the name Andrew Hamilton. A resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was no relation to Alexander Hamilton and was born in Scotland in 1656. Hamilton was the Attorney General of Pennsylvania from 1717 through 1726 and became Recorder of Philadelphia in 1727. Later, he would go on to become the Speaker of the Assembly from 1729 to 1739.

After John Peter Zenger had languished in jail for an entire year, his trial began on August 4, 1735 inside a small court room in the New York City Hall. The Attorney General opened the case, saying that the defendant had pleaded not guilty to printing and publishing a false, scandalous, and seditious libel against Governor Cosby. Chief Justice DeLancey then said to the jury, “The laws in my opinion are very clear; they cannot be admitted to justify a libel.” When Andrew Hamilton spoke, he was made famous for arguing that “the truth is a defense against libel.” When the jury withdrew to deliberate, DeLancey was drawn into an argument with Hamilton, perhaps reflecting that Hamilton’s argument had some merit. When the jury returned, the Clerk asked whether they agreed on a verdict and whether John Peter Zenger was guilty of printing and publishing libels. The jury’s foreman, Thomas Hunt, replied, “Yes, the verdict is ‘Not Guilty’.”

The monumental trial of John Peter Zenger took place on the historic site where Federal Hall National Memorial now stands. The case inspired the entire city and helped to further the cause for freedom that led to revolution, forty years later. The John Peter Zenger trial would lead the way for the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Election of 1860

Woman making American Flag

Election day took place on Tuesday, November 6, 1860. In one of the strangest and most critical elections in the history of the United States, Republican Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, beating Democrat Stephen A Douglas, Southern Democrat John Breckenridge, and Constitutional Unionist Edward Everett. There are 6,498,243 people registered to vote, accounting for 20.7% of the total population. Women could not vote, thus excluding almost half of the population. Male slaves and the majority of free black men were also excluded as were most all Native Americans. Many states also required a man to own property in order to register to vote. Of the men eligible to vote, about 81.2% actually did, the second highest percentage of voter turnout in American history. At this time a little over a third of the total population live in the New England states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania combined.

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Lincoln received 1,865,908 votes, 39.8% of those cast. He carried 18 states, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Stephen Douglas received 1,380,202 votes, 29.5% of the those cast but he won only the state of Missouri.

John Breckenridge received 848,019 votes, 18.1% of those cast. He carried 11 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

Edward Everett received 590,901 votes, 12.6% of those cast and carried the states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

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Regional differences, particularly over the expansion or limitation of slavery and the question of states rights, are extremely divisive. The divisions are evident in the results: Lincoln won all the Northern states; Breckenridge won the deep South and the slave-holding states of Maryland and Delaware; Lincoln won no Southern states; the other candidates won no Northen states.

In the Electoral College, based upon state results, Lincoln had 180 votes, Breckenridge 72 votes, Bell 39 votes and Douglas only 12.

Of the Congressional races, once South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860 and other Southern states followed, newly elected Congressmen and Senators never took their seats in the new Congress and most Southern members left Washington. By April, 1861, the shooting had begun.

1856 Election

Woman making American Flag

Election day took place on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. The Democrat James Buchanan won the presidency, defeating Republican candidate James C Fremont and Whig-American candidate and former President Millard Fillmore. [The Whig-American Party was a combination of remaining Whigs with two small third parties.] There were 5,135,114 people eligible to vote, accounting for only 18.0% of the total population. Women could not vote, thus excluding almost half of the population. Male slaves and the majority of free black men were also excluded as were most all Native Americans. Many states also required a man to own property in order to register to vote. Of the men eligible to vote, about 78.9% actually did.

Fremont received 1,340,668 votes, 33.1% of those cast. He carried 11 states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Fillmore received 872,703 votes, 21.5% of those cast. He carried the state of Maryland.

Buchanan received 1,835,140 votes, 45.4% of those cast. He carried the other 19 states.

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There were close contests in four states. In Iowa Fremont won 48.8% of the vote and carried the state because Fillmore received 10.5% of the vote which hurt Buchanan. However, Buchanan won California with 48.4% of the vote, Illinois with 44.0% of the vote, and New Jersey with 47.2% of the vote because Fillmore won 32.8% of the vote in California, 15.7% in Illinois and 24.3% in New Jersey, thus hurting Fremont in those states, proving that third parties can and do make a difference.

Real and divisive issues included the expansion of slavery, the bloodshed in Kansas, the validity of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and enforcement of the Fugitive Slave act of 1850. Democrats attacked the new Republican Party as “Black Republicans” saying they wanted to curtail or, worse yet, abolish slavery and involve free black people in American society, particularly by allowing inter-racial marriage which was a trumped-up charge. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass criticized the Republicans for failing to take a strong stand on behalf of black people. The Democratic governor of Virginia claimed that “If Fremont is elected, there will be a revolution.” Northern businessmen feared that the Republicans would have an adverse affect on the economy so they contributed large amounts of money to the Democrats.

“The Black Republicans must be, as they can be with justice, boldly assailed as disunionists, and this charge must be reiterated again and again.” ~ Democratic candidate James Buchanan

“Nothing is clearer in the history of our institutions than the design of the nation, in asserting its own independence and freedom, to avoid giving countenance to the Extension of Slavery. The influence of the small but compact and powerful class of men interested in Slavery, who command one section of the country and wield a vast political control as a consequence in the other, is now directed to turn back this impulse of the Revolution and reverse its principles.” ~ Republican candidate John C Fremont

“We Fremonters of this town have not one dollar where the Fillmoreans and Buchaneers have ten each.” ~ New York newspaper editor Horace Greeley

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Based upon the states carried by each candidate, in the Electoral College Buchanan received 174 electoral votes, Fremont received 114 electoral votes, and Fillmore received 8 electoral votes. In Congressional races, the Democrats won 50 additional seats in the Hose of Representatives while the Republicans gained 7 additional seats in the Senate. This would be the last presidential election the Democrats will win until 1884.