Educators quite often delve into our beginnings as a nation to reinforce our commitment to seeking the truth with children. This is why we encourage creative writing, a free-form discussion in the older grades and student newspapers in secondary schools.
At our school, history is a bedrock of the curriculum. And no history can be taught without a careful study of how those individuals who signed the Constitution viewed this free exchange of ideas among a free people. This was a revolutionary idea, a reaction to the closed systems of governance from which the country’s early leaders revolted.
As we celebrate the July 4th holiday, it might be a good time to go back to our founding fathers (unfortunately, there weren’t any founding mothers…except for the mothers of the founding fathers). Much of what they said, especially about the freedom of the press, rings as true today as it did more than two hundred years ago.
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The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.
Freedom of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.
Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
As unbalanced parties of every description can never tolerate a free inquiry of any kind, when employed against themselves, the license, and even the most temperate freedom of the press, soon excite resentment and revenge.
Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.