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An Enquiry Concerning the Liberty, And Licentiousness - Thomson, John - 1801. 
1801. An Important Attack on the Sedition Act Thomson, John. An Enquiry Concerning the Liberty, And Licentiousness of the Press, And the Uncontroulable Nature of the Human Mind: Containing an Investigation of the Right which Government have to Controul the Free Expression of Public Opinion, Addressed to the People of the U. States. New York: Printed by Johnson & Stryker, No. 29 Gold-Street, for the Author, 1801. 84 pp. Octavo (9" x 5-1/2"). Disbound stab-stitched pamphlet, recently re-sewn, untrimmed edges. moderate toning, light foxing and staining in a few places, light soiling, edgewear and a few small chips to title page and final leaf. Small later stamp to head of title page (possibly a serial number), internally clean. $2,500. * Only edition. Thompson attacks the Sedition Act as tool to stifle freedom of the press. He casts his argument for unlimited freedom of expression in the terms of eighteenth-century Enlightenment radicalism and the U.S. Bill of Rights. Much of his case will sound familiar; it now accepted as irrefutable by most Americans today. The Sedition Act was passed with the Alien Act by the Federalist-controlled Congress in 1789 to curb the influence of Jefferson's Republican Party and French radicals. The Sedition Act made it unlawful to publish anything false, malicious or scandalous about the president or Congress, or to assist the designs of a foreign power against the United States. The unpopularity of these acts contributed to Jefferson's election and the rapid decline of the Federalist Party. In a wise move, Thomson dated his Enquiry March 4, 1801, the date of Jefferson's inauguration and, more important, the expiration of the Sedition Act. Thomson would have been pleased to know that Jefferson owned a copy of this work. OCLC locates 3 copies in law libraries (Harvard, University of Michigan, Yale). Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson 3533. Sabin, A Dictionary of Books Relating to America 95584. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 3582.
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