First Amendment: Where does the idea of Freedom of the Press originate?

Where does the idea of Freedom of the Press originate?  In the United States it dates back to our colonial period.  In 1735, John Zenger  was put on trial for criticizing the colonial governor.  He was acquitted by the jury because his criticism was factual.  The Freedom of the Press was later included in  our First Amendment.
For more information see the link below.

“World Press Day.” History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2017, historyhub.abc-clio.com. Accessed 3 May 2017.

 

America after the 2016 election

For the first time in 8 years I dreaded meeting with the Bellevue Public Library Citizenship students.  How do I explain the election and the fact that so much of what Donald Trump ran on goes against the very basic premises in our Constitution and against our First Amendment rights.  But we made it through and at the end of the evening, after discussing our government and the checks and balances, we were hopeful that our system of government would prevail.

Samantha Power,   the U.S.  Ambassador to the United Nations spoke to a group of new citizens.  Here is an excerpt on her speech:   (To read her entire speech – well worth the time – go here)

“You are what America looks like. And as much as any other quality, this is what makes this country so exceptional.

Today, you, too, have become citizens of this nation — at a pretty tumultuous time, as you may have read in the newspapers. For some of you, this may be a day of mixed emotions. I suspect many of you were drawn to this country not only because of the opportunities it offers — but also because of the principles that it stands for and strives to live up to. A nation built on the values of freedom and justice, and the idea that all citizens have the right to be treated equally, and with dignity.

And yet we have just come through an election campaign in which some of these very principles have been called into question. We’ve heard politicians, public figures, and citizens call for people to be treated differently because of what they believe or because of where they were born. We’ve heard immigrants blamed for many of our country’s problems.”

and then

“And remember that allegiance is about much more than just abiding by a system of laws. Today, you are sworn into what the great Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once called the most important office in our land — that of private citizen. The office of private citizen carries with it an awesome responsibility and an unparalleled privilege of being one of the individuals empowered to keep our republic strong. The fate of our nation, your nation — and everything it stands for — has and always will depend on it. Depend on us. We trust that you are up to the task, and we welcome you to this country with open arms.”

I hope you will read the full speech.  In the full speech Samantha Powers talks about the lives of immigrants that she knows and how they have enriched and contributed to the United States, these are people that she works closely with on a daily basis.  I would affirm the same in  my life.  Immigrants are a huge piece of why America is one of the most economically stable countries in the world.  Immigrants bring so many talents and ideas that enrich us.

Citizenship Class at the Bellevue Public Library

Background Information:

Our Bellevue Public Library meets on Monday nights 7-8:30.  I have been teaching this class since Oct. of 2008 and in that time have met many remarkable people working toward U.S. citizenship.   In this blog I want to provide resources and information about our government, history and culture.  Every time we meet, we start out with a chat time, often talking about something happening in current events.

Go to USCIS.gov for information about naturalization.

Interesting Link to information on the First Amendment — at the time it was written and the role of the press.  http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/The-First-Amendment-in-the-Colonial-press.pdf

The First Amendment in the Colonial press
By Gordon T. Belt
First Amendment Center library manager