Silence Dogood essay 8: "Sir, I prefer the following Abstract from the London Journal to any Thing of my own ..."
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In this essay appearing in the 2-9 July 1722 issue of The New-England Courant, Silence Dogood quotes at length from an article about freedom of speech that was originally published in the London Journal, 4 February 1720/1 and then was reprinted in Cato's Letters. The article eloquently defends liberty of speech for newspapermen and all citizens. This was a timely subject for the men responsible for The New-England Courant because a short news piece in an issue from the previous month (the 4-11 June 1722 issue of The New-England Courant) offended government officials and landed James Franklin in jail from 12 June until 7 July 1722. Benjamin Franklin continued to publish the Courant while James was in prison. Franklin's decision to have Silence Dogood quote from a previously published text focused the discussion on the topic of freedom of speech and didn't acknowledge that the topic might have been prompted by a recent event.
Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it he does not hurt or countroul the Right of another: And this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know.
This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a Man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own.
To examine the entire newspaper, please see the online display of The New-England Courant, Number 49, 2-9 July 1722.
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