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Publication information
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Source: The American Idea
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “Free Speech and Constitutional Liberty”
Author(s): Hoar, George F.
Compiler(s): Gilder, Joseph B.
Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Company
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1902
Pagination: 295-98

 
Citation
Hoar, George F. “Free Speech and Constitutional Liberty.” The American Idea. Comp. Joseph B. Gilder. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1902: pp. 295-98.
 
Transcription
full text of excerpted address as given in book; excerpt of book
 
Keywords
George F. Hoar (public addresses); McKinley assassination (personal response); anarchism (personal response); anarchism (laws against); freedom of speech; anarchism (dealing with).
 
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Charles J. Guiteau; George F. Hoar; William McKinley.
 
Notes
In the book’s table of contents the address is identified as “Hoar on Free Speech.”

From title page: The American Idea: As Expounded by American Statesmen.

From title page: Introduction by Andrew Carnegie.
 
Document

 

Free Speech and Constitutional Liberty

 

EXTRACT FROM AN ADDRESS BY UNITED STATES SENATOR HOAR AT THE REPUBLICAN STATE CONVENTION, BOSTON, OCTOBER 4, 1901.

     [In referring to the assassination of President McKinley, Mr. Hoar said:]

WE can undoubtedly provide some additional legal safeguards against the recurrence of this terrible crime. We can, I suppose, make the preaching, counseling, or advising the killing of or doing violence to our National officers, high or low, or those of foreign countries, an offense against our National law, punishable with severe penalties. We can, if we think fit, make the conspiring to accomplish this punishable with death, or any overt act or attempt to accomplish it punishable with death. We may, perhaps, devise some additional security against the coming into our ports of criminal persons known to entertain [295][296] the purposes of carrying out anarchists’ sentiments by overt acts. I dare say that other protections may be devised.
     But we cannot give up free speech or constitutional liberty because of the danger of a recurrence of such crimes. We cannot abandon free speech or constitutional liberty for fear of Guiteau or Czolgosz. We may as well desert our habitations in our beautiful fields or on the banks of our rivers and lakes, because science has discovered that the mosquito carries on his sting a poison fatal to human life. The restraining of free speech and of the free press, disagreeable as are their excesses, must come in the main from the individual’s sense of duty, and not by law. There are already some comforting signs of returning health in this matter. Yellow journalism is already being rebuked by the yellowest of yellow journals.
     Let it be understood, as a most important practical lesson for the State, that while political sentiments and political measures are to be denounced if they seem dangerous to the State, or contrary to righteousness or justice, or constitutional liberty, with the most unsparing fearlessness, yet the arrogant demand of any man to penetrate the in- [296][297] dividual soul of his neighbor, and to judge of his motives or personal worth by what seems to be the error of his political opinions, is that presumptuous and arrogant Pharisaism which excited to its sublimest wrath the gentle spirit of the Saviour of mankind. It was the publican and not the Pharisee who went back to his house justified rather than the other. “Judge not that ye be not judged” is the divine command. And the divine penalty is that “with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged.”
     You and I are Republicans. You and I are men of the North. Most of us are Protestants in religion. We are men of native birth. Yet, if every Republican were to-day to fall in his place, as William McKinley has fallen, I believe our countrymen of the other party, in spite of what we deem their errors, would take the Republic and bear on the flag to liberty and glory. I believe if every Protestant were to be stricken down by a lightning stroke that our brethren of the Catholic faith would still carry on the Republic in the spirit of a true and liberal freedom. I believe if every man of native birth within our borders were to die this day, the men of foreign birth, who have come [297][298] here to seek homes and liberty under the shadow of the Republic, would carry on the Republic in God’s appointed way. I believe if every man of the North were to die, the new and chastened South, with the virtues it has cherished from the beginning, of love of home and love of State and love of freedom, with its courage and its constancy, would take the country and bear it on to the achievement of its lofty destiny. The anarchist must slay seventy-five million Americans before he can slay the Republic.
     Of course, there would be mistakes. Of course, there would be disappointments and grievous errors. Of course, there would be many things for which the lovers of liberty would mourn. But America would survive them all, and the Nation our fathers planted would abide in perennial life.

 

 


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