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The First Amendment
" 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, or to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
The First amendment as stated above is a very important part of our history and our lives as we live them today. It took a lot to get there though and came out of the ideas of some confused and some not so confused people.
The First Amendment to the Constitution was a very necessary thing back in the day. It came out of a time where people had just gotten over the tyrannical rule of Britain and were searching for new ways of doing things. Many older men saw it as a safeguard of their personal liberties and as a check on the abuse of power by the states. In England in 1665, there was such a thing as The Conventicle Act. This act stated that anyone over the age of sixteen was cecptible to imprisonment if they were caught practicing any other religions other then the established one. In the years to come people would come to America to seek religious freedom and they got it. In 1811, when James Madison was president, he vetoed a bill passed by Congress incorporating a church organization. England was also an influence on how we handled the press, since we were trying to break away from them and be different and independent. England had pollicies wearies printers, publishers, and writers could not print, publish, or basically write anything unless it was inspected by the King or some higher power. America thought this must be wrong and so allowed our papers and printers and writers to do what they would within guidelines and reason. We weren't in complete disagreement with all of England's freedom policies however. In the Colonial Declaration of Rights of October 19, 1765, it stated "that it is the right of British subjects in these colonies to petition the King or either House of Parliament." And so our policy of the people to peaceably assemble had already existed.
Although many laws and regulations were to some extent followed or regulated, nothing was set in stone thought it should be. The First Amendment , being part of the Bill of Rights, was an attack to some on the Constitution for it's vagueness lack of specific protection against tyranny. At one specific meeting of the Virgnia convention Patrick Henry, an anti-federalist, asked "What can you avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances?", referring to the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, who was mainly in favor of new government wrote to James Madison that the Bill of Rights was "what the people are entitled to against every government on earth." Madison was the biggest supporter of the Bill of Rights, he worked hard to persuade House to enact certain amendments. Then, after finally trimming down the 17 amendments to twelve, which were adopted by Congress, a copy of the twelve was sent to each of the states for ratification puposes. By December 15, 1791, ¾ s of the states had ratified ten amendments, including the First, to become our Bill of Rights.
Although fair the First Amendment has raised some problems and questions. When the Espionage Act was passed in June of 1917, it spawned a lot of backlash from the press. In one case, the editor of a foreign language paper published articles against the United States' war efforts, belittling the American and his governments. Although the man was not sent to jail or anything like that the Supreme Court did issue a statement to him and others like him stating "Freedom of the press may protect criticism and agitation for modification or repeal of laws, but it does not extend to protection of him who counsels and encourages the violation of the law as it exists. The Constitution was adopted to preserve our government, not to serve as a protecting screen for those who, while claiming its privileges, seek to destroy it." Also in 1890 when an unknown person made a case with the Supreme court on how the National Government
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James Madison, United States Bill of Rights, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Right to petition in the United States, Constitutional amendment, Civil liberties in the United States, Incorporation of the Bill of Rights
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