The purpose of the article is to investigate the most important events in the evolution of law and doctrine regarding freedom of expression in the British colonies of North America. For certain, philosophical treaties brought over the Atlantic on ships arriving from the European metropolis were not the only factors influencing the ultimate shape of the American Constitution and the First Amendment. Indigenous experiences of the colonies — meaning the events preceding the United States’ independence — also rested at the foundations of these normative acts. In particular, the role played by legislative assemblies and governors of individual colonies deserves to be investigated. Apart from that, also legal trials which became a battlefi eld between pro-independence aspirations of the colonists and despotic impulses of metropolitan authority are worth special attention. The trial of Peter Zenger serves as the best example. All those experiences certainly had an impact on the views and attitudes of the Founding Fathers which in turn can be discovered in the constitutional text, where the fight against despotism for the largest possible scope of civil rights remains one of the basic assumptions.
Nov 4, 2020
Apr 22, 2020
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