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favor, and to rouse the attention of the whole community, It may be one means to control the majority from those acts, to which they might be otherwise inclined.

§ 439. The want of a Bill of Rights, then, is not either an unfounded or illusory objection. The real question is not, whether every sort of right or privilege or claim ought to be affirmed in a constitution; but whether such, as in their own nature are of vital importance, and peculiarly susceptible of abuse, ought not to receive this solemn sanction. Doubtless, the want of a formal Bill of Rights in the Constitution was a matter of very exaggerated declamation and party zeal, for the mere purpose of defeating the Constitution. But, so far as the objection was well founded in fact, it was right to remove it by subsequent amendments; and Congress have (as we shall see) accordingly performed the duty with most prompt and laudable diligence.

§ 440. The first amendment is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

§ 441. The same policy, which introduced into the Constitution the prohibition of any religious test, led to this more extended prohibition of the interference of Congress in religious concerns. We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity, (which none could hold in more reverence, than the framers of the Constitution,) but to a dread by the people of the influence of ecclesiastical power in matters of government; a dread, which their ancestors brought with them from the parent country, and which, unhappily for human infirmity, their own conduct, after their emigration, had not, in any just degree, tended to diminish. It was also obvious, from the numerous and powerful sects existing in the United States, that there would be perpetual temptations to struggles for ascendency in the National councils, if any one might thereby hope to found a perma

nent and exclusive national establishment of its own, and religious persecutions might thus be introduced, to an extent utterly subversive of the true interests and good order of the Republic. The most effectual mode of suppressing the evil, in the view of the people, was, to strike down the temptations to its introduction.

§ 442. How far any government has a right to interfere in matters touching religion, has been a subject much discussed by writers upon public and political law. The right and the duty of the interference of government in matters of religion have been maintained by many distinguished authors, as well by those, who were the warmest advocates of free governments, as by those, who were attached to governments of a more arbitrary character. Indeed, the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion, will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice. The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to Him for all our actions, founded upon moral accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues ;-these never can be a matter of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive, how any civilized society can well exist without them. And, at all events, it is impossible for those, who believe in the truth of Christianity, as a Divine revelation, to doubt, that it is the especial duty of government to foster, and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects. This is a point wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgement in matters of religon, and of the freedom of public worship, according to the d'ctates of one's conscience.

§ 443. The real difficulty lies in ascertaining the limits, to which government may rightfully go, in fostering and encouraging religion. Three cases may easily be supposed. One, where a government affords aid to a par ticular religion, leaving all persons free to adopt an

other; another, where it creates an ecclesiastical estab lishment for the propagation of the doctrines of a particular sect of that religion, leaving a like freedom to all others; and a third, where it creates such an establishment, and excludes all persons, not belonging to it, either wholly, or in part, from any participation in the public honors, trusts, emoluments, privileges, and immunities of the state. For instance, a government may simply declare, that the Christian religion shall be the religion of the state, and shall be aided, and encouraged in all the varieties of sects belonging to it; or it may declare, that the Roman Catholic or Protestant religion shall be the religion of the state, leaving every man to the free enjoyment of his own religious. opinions; or it may establish the doctrines of a particular sect, as of Episcopalians, as the religion of the state, with a like freedom; or it may establish the doctrines of a particular sect, as exclusively the religion of the state, tolerating others to a limited extent, or excluding all, not belonging to it, from all public honors, trusts, emoluments, privileges, and immunities.

§ 444. Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State, so far as such encouragement was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.

§ 445. The next clause respects the liberty of speech, and of the press. That this amendment was intended to secure to every citizen an absolute right to speak, or write, or print, whatever he might please, without any responsibility, public or private, therefor, is a supposition too wild to be indulged by any reasonable man. That would be, to allow every citizen a right to destroy, at his pleasure, the reputation, the peace, the property, and even the personal safety of every other citizen. A man might then, out of mere malice or revenge, accuse another of infamous

crimes; night excite against him the indignation of all his fellow citizens by the most atroc'ous calumnies; might disturb, nay, overturn his domestic peace, and embitter his domestic affections; might inflict the most distressing punishments upon the weak, the timid, and the innocent; might prejudice all the civil, political, and private rights of another; and might stir up sedition, rebellion, and even treason, against the government itself, in the wantonness of his passions, or the corruptions of his heart. Civil society could not go on under such circumstances. Men would be obliged to resort to private vengeance to make up for the deficiencies of the law. It is plain, then, that this amendment imports no more, than that every man shall have a right to speak, write, and print his opinions upon any subject whatsoever, without any prior restraint, so always that he does not injure any other person in his rights, property, or personal reputation; and so always that he does not thereby disturb the public peace, or attempt to subvert the government. It is in fact designed to guard against those abuses of power, by which, in some foreign governments, men are not permitted to speak upon political subjects, or to write or publish any thing without the express license of the government for that purpose.

§ 446. A little attention to the history of other countries, in other ages, will teach us the vast importance of this right. It is notorious, that, even to this day, in some foreign countries, it is a crime to speak on any subject, religious, philosophical, or political, what is contrary to the received opinions of the government, or the institutions of the country, however laudable may be the design, and however virtuous may be the motive. Even to animadvert upon the conduct of public men, of rulers, or of representatives, in terms of the strictest truth and courtesy, has been, and is, deemed a scandal upon the supposed sanctity of their stations and characters, subjecting the party to grievous punishment. In some countries, no works can be printed at all, whether of science, or literature, or philosophy, without the previous approbation of the government; and the press has been shackled, and compelled to speak only in the timid language, which the cringing

courtier, or the capricious inquisitor, has been willing to license for publication. The Bible itself, the coinmon inheritance, not merely of Christendom, but of the world, has been put exclusively under the control of government; and has not been allowed to be seen, or heard, or read, except in a language unknown to the common inhabitants of the country. To publish a translation in the vernacular tongue, has been in former times a flagrant offence.

§ 447. There is a good deal of loose reasoning on the subject of the liberty of the press, as if its inviolability were constitutionally such, that, like the King of England, it could do no wrong, and was free from every inquiry, and afforded a perfect sanctuary for every abuse; that, in short, it implied a despotic sovereignty to do every sort of wrong, without the slightest accountability to private or public justice. Such a notion is too extravagant to be held by any sound constitutional lawyer, with regard to the rights and duties belonging to governments generally, or to the state governments in particular. If it were admitted to be correct, it might be justly affirmed, that the liberty of the press was incompatible with_the permanent existence of any free government. Mr. Justice Blackstone has remarked, that the liberty of the press, properly understood, is essential to the nature of a free state; but that this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter, when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public. To forbid this is to destroy the freedom of the press. But, if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his own temerity. To subject the press to the restrictive power of a licenser, as was formerly done before, and since the Revolution, (of 1688,) is to subject all freedom of sentiment to the prejudices of one man, and make him the arbitrary and infallible judge of all controverted points in learning, religion, and government. But to punish any dangerous or offensive writings, which, when published, shall, on a fair and impartial trial, be adjudged of a pernicious tendency, is necessary for the preservation of

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