A Landmark Case in the History of the First Amendment [Trial]. Hamilton, Alexander [1757-1804] (et Al.). Crosswell, Harry (1778-1858), Defendant. The Speeches at Full Length of Mr Van Ness, Mr. Caines, the Attorney-General, Mr. Harrison, And General Hamilton, In the Great Cause of the People, Against Harry Croswell, On an Indictment for a Libel on Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States. New York: Printed by G. & R. Waite, 1804. 78 pp. Octavo (8" x 5"). Disbound stab-stitched pamphlet. Moderate toning, occasional light foxing, negligible light soiling to title page and verso of final leaf. $2,500. * Only edition. People of the State of New York v. Harry Croswell, also known as People v. Croswell, is a landmark case in the history of the First Amendment. It was a prosecution for criminal libel under the Sedition Act in the Court of General Sessions of the Peace of Columbia County, New York. Croswell was indicted for an article, published in The Wasp, a Federalist newspaper he edited, that accused Jefferson of hiring James Callender to write articles attributing various crimes to Washington and Adams. Crosswell was defended by a distinguished team of lawyers, among them Alexander Hamilton. In one of his greatest and most influential speeches, and one of the last he gave in his lifetime, Hamilton argued that freedom of the press consists in publishing the truth, from good motives and for justifiable ends, however it may reflect on its subjects. More important, he argued for a rejection of libel based on English rules, which remained a part of New York law, especially the rule that truthfulness is not a reason for acquittal. Croswell was convicted, but he was not sentenced or retried. And the cause of his case was mooted the following year when the New York State Legislature abandoned English libel law in favor of one based on Hamilton's argument. It became the law of the land when the other states and the Federal government followed New York's example. Ford, Bibliotheca Hamiltoniana 90. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 13322.
Book number 70496