Publication information
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Source: Nation
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “The Week”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 26 September 1901
Volume number: 73
Issue number: 1891
Pagination: 235-37 (excerpt below includes only pages 235-36)

“The Week.” Nation 26 Sept. 1901 v73n1891: pp. 235-37.
Virginia Constitutional Convention; McKinley assassination (government response); freedom of speech (restrictions on).
Named persons
William McKinley.
The item below is the third of three excerpts taken from this issue’s installment of “The Week.” Click here to view the first and second excerpts.


The Week [excerpt]

     What looks like a step backward is the decision of the Virginia Constitutional Convention to omit from the new Constitution which it is framing a provision regarding free speech that is found in the old one. The Bill of Rights in that State now contains this section:

“That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments. And any citizen may speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.”

A committee reported in favor of striking out the second of these sentences, and an attempt in the Convention to restore the clause was defeated by a vote of 28 to 23. The incident occurred a few days after Mr. McKinley was shot, and the action would naturally be attributed to that crime. Indeed, the chairman of the committee responsible incidentally referred to the assassination of President McKinley, and added: “It does seem to me that we have had a lesson in this country of the evils that will come of allowing a man, or rather a woman, to speak for ever on all subjects, subject to their liability to the law. We should not encourage it.” The main reason which he assigned, however, was the fact that the clause in question was “the work of aliens”—meaning that it was added to the original section by the convention, largely [235][236] controlled by “carpet-baggers,” which met in 1868, during the reconstruction era—and that their work ought to be undone. Practically nothing is accomplished by such action.



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