When the United States government passed the Bill of Rights in 1791, its uncompromising protection of speech and of the press were unlike anything the world had ever seen before. But by 1798, the once-dazzling young republic of the United States was on the verge of collapse: partisanship gripped the weak federal government, British seizures threatened American goods and men on the high seas, and war with France seemed imminent as its own democratic revolution deteriorated into terror. Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical. So that July, President John Adams and the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time. In Liberty's First Crisis, writer Charles Slack tells the story of the 1798 Sedition Act, the crucial moment when high ideals met real-world politics and the country's future hung in the balance.
From a loudmouth in a bar to a firebrand politician to Benjamin Franklin's own grandson, those victimized by the Sedition Act were as varied as the country's citizenry. But Americans refused to let their freedoms be so easily dismissed: they penned fiery editorials, signed petitions, and raised "liberty poles," while Vice President Thomas Jefferson and James Madison drew up the infamous Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, arguing that the Federalist government had gone one step too far. Liberty's First Crisis vividly unfolds these pivotal events in the early life of the republic, as the Founding Fathers struggled to define America off the page and preserve the freedoms they had fought so hard to create.
About the Author
Charles Slack is the author of Noble Obsession: Charles Goodyear, Thomas Hancock, and the Race to Unlock the Greatest Industrial Secret of the Nineteenth Century, named one of the New York Public Library's twenty-five Books to Remember for 2002, and Blue Fairways: Three Months, Sixty Courses, No Mulligans. His writing has appeared in many national magazines. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Barbara, and their daughters, Natalie and Caroline.
Brian Holsopple has been in the voice-over and audio business for more than twenty years. His commercial client list includes Discover Channel, Virginia Lottery, and City Bank of Texas, among others. A winner of the 2007 Publisher's Weekly Audiobook Award, he has narrated books for Arthur C. Clarke, Henry Wiencek, and Jay Rubenstein.