What is it about?

The article examines a key period in the evolution of freedom of speech in the United States. The period investigated is the War of 1812.

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Why is it important?

The United States Bill of Rights with its famous First Amendment was approved by Congress in 1789, but that law did not by itself create an enduring tradition of freedom of speech in the United States, as was shown by the enactment of the Sedition Act in 1798. The article shows that President Madison was subjected to harsh verbal attacks during the War of 1812, and the author argues that President Madison's restraint in the face of such attacks was contributes significantly to the emergence of a culture of free speech in the United States.


The article sheds light on President Madison's unique contribution to the emergence of an enduring tradition of free speech in the United States.

Juhani Rudanko
University of Tampere

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This page is a summary of: “[T]his most unnecessary, unjust, and disgraceful war”, Journal of Historical Pragmatics, May 2011, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/jhp.12.1-2.04rud.
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