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Author: Raine    Date: 02/18/2019 13:58:02

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter,”

George Washington, addressing officers of the Army, prior to being elected the first President of the United States of America.
Even the founding fathers had a complicated relationship with the early reporters George Washington called “infamous scribblers.” While James Madison believed that “to the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression,” the primary author of the Constitution spoke from personal knowledge on both sides of the equation. He and Thomas Jefferson surreptitiously started one of the first partisan newspapers, the National Gazette, to attack their rival Alexander Hamilton and the policies of the Washington administration. Jefferson exhorted Madison to attack Hamilton under an assumed-name in the paper, saying, “For god’s sake, my dear sir, take up your pen, select the most striking heresies, and cut him to pieces in the face of the public.”


“The President was much inflamed,” recounted Jefferson with a degree of detached amusement, “[and he] got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself; ran on much on the personal abuse which had been bestowed on him; defied any man on earth to produce one single act of his since he had been in the government which was not done on the purest motives . . . that by God he had rather be in his grave than in the present situation; that he would rather be on his farm than to be made Emperor of the world.”

However infuriated Washington was, the notoriously self-monitoring first president took care not to display his anger in public. The first president understood the power of precedent and was determined to maintain the dignity of the office. It’s an example that most of his successors have tried to follow.

“if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.” John McCain, Meet the Press, February 18, 2017

On this Presidents day, celebrate our Free Press and consider supporting a publication or two. We need it now more than ever.



10 comments (Latest Comment: 02/18/2019 20:14:25 by TriSec)
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