Unoriginal Misunderstanding: Press Freedom in Early America and Interpretation of the First Amendment

Unoriginal Misunderstanding surveys the American libertarian traditions of press freedom that underlie the First Amendment. Author Kenneth Shear collects extensive source material demonstrating the deep roots of free expression in America. Shear also challenges judges and scholars who have proposed to narrow the press freedom guarantee because they misunderstand the origins of the First Amendment, and he shows that historical sources do indeed support broad modern interpretations of freedom of the press.
  • ‘[E]very reader should come away impressed by the range of materials Shear has unearthed that support the notion that eighteenth-century Americans embraced expansive notions of freedom of the press.’ – Prof. Richard Buel, Jr. (author of Securing the Revolution)
  • ‘Shear … arrays a formidable group of writings by lawyers, ministers, and journalists during and after the revolution concerning press freedoms.’ – Prof. Alfred W. Blumrosen (Author of Slave Nation)
  • ‘[Y]ou will never look at the phrase ‘original understanding’ the same way. UNORIGINAL MISUNDERSTANDING will be an insightful companion to any intellectual debate about … the origins of the First Amendment.’ – Law and Politics Book Review
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