Skip to content

The Press is rumoured to Inform and Enlighten

“To accomplish the ends of Society by being equal to Contingencies infinite, demands the deposit of power great and extensive indeed in the hands of Rulers. So great, as to render abuse probable, unless prevented by the most careful precautions: among which, the freedom & frequency of elections, the liberty of the Press, the Trial by Jury, and the Independency of the Judges, seem to be so capital & essential; that they ought to be secured by a Bill of Rights to regulate the discretion of Rulers in a legal way, restraining the progress of Ambition & Avarice within just bounds. Rulers must act by subordinate Agents generally, and however the former may be secure from the pursuits of Justice, the latter are forever kept in Check by the trial by Jury where that exists ‘in all its Rights’. This most excellent security against oppression, is an universal, powerful and equal protector of all. But the benefit to be derived from this System is most effectually to be obtained from a well informed and enlightened people. Here arises the necessity for the freedom of the Press, which is the happiest Organ of communication ever yet devised, the quickest & surest means of conveying intelligence to the human Mind.” – Richard Henry Lee, letter to Edmund Pendleton, May 26, 1788, Debate on the Constitution, Part Two (ed. Bailyn; emphasis in original)

Published inPolitics & LawThe American Constitution

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.