Happy Fourth Of July

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On Freedom of Speech and the Press

Published by Benjamin Franklin in the Pennsylvania Gazette of November 1737

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government when this support is taken away the constitution of a free society is dissolved and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigour from a popular examination into the actions of the magistrates this privilege in all ages has been and always will be abused The best of men could not escape the censure and envy of the times they lived in Yet this evil is not so great as it may appear at first sight A magistrate who sincerely aims at the good of society will always have the inclinations of a great majority on his side and an impartial posterity will not fail to render him justice.

Those abuses of the freedom of speech are the exercises of liberty They ought to be repressed but to whom dare we commit the care of doing it An evil magistrate intrusted with power to punish for words would be armed with a weapon the most destructive and terrible Under pretence of pruning off the exuberant branches he would be apt to destroy the tree.

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