Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech

Stephen D. Solomon. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-230-34206-4
Solomon (Ellery’s Protest), a journalist and associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, explores the 17th- and 18th-century political and cultural dynamics that resulted in the expansive view of freedom of expression employed in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. To underscore the breadth of support for this understanding, Solomon cleverly names each chapter after the vocation of a person who played a part in the events that forged the founders’ vision. The players include the famous and the uncelebrated: Paul Revere, the “Silversmith,”; James Madison, the “Framer”; little-known Ebenezer McIntosh, the “Shoemaker”; and Patrick Henry, the “Planter.” Additionally, Solomon demonstrates how broad the concept of freedom of expression had become in the First Amendment, protecting newspapers, pamphlets, songs, and other forms, in addition to public speech. One of the issues, then and now, in First Amendment doctrine is the extent to which libelous speech is protected. Solomon covers this conundrum well and cites a pivotal 20th-century Supreme Court case on freedom of the press, New York Times v. Sullivan, which outlines where the debate now stands. Solomon’s mix of close history, academic dissertation, and accessible popular history reiterates the value of examining the historical precedents to America’s revered commitment to freedom of expression. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2016
Release date: 04/26/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-4668-7939-3
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-250-18537-2
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