Can We Build a New Jefferson?



Teaching the Alien and Sedition Acts to my journalism students the other day, I concentrated on this passage:

The vituperative quality of the opposition press began to worry even the Federalists more and more, especially President Adams (even though the Federalist press was doing pretty much the same thing). A touchy and proud man at the best of times, Adams couldn’t see the attacks on him as simply part of the political debate, but instead felt that they were attacks on the nation that he,, as president, represented. Adams, therefore was not averse to proposed laws that would control the press.

Getting wind he bills that were under consideration for reigning in the press, Jefferson, who was by now thoroughly convinced of the importance off the press in the evolving American political process—and who, quite correctly, assumed that enforcement would be against that part of the press…

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