Free Speech Wasn’t So Free 105 Years Ago: ‘Seditious’ and ‘Unpatriotic’ Speech Was Criminalized

Eugene Debs holds flowers and is flanked by four other people on either side of him

As a scholar and lawyer focused on freedom of speech in the U.S., I have studied the federal government’s attempts to restrict speech, including during World War I, and the legal cases that challenged them,” Eric P. Robinson writes. These cases helped form the modern idea of the First Amendment right of free speech. But the conflict between patriotism and free expression continues to be an issue a century later.”