Amnesty

Although the first recorded amnesty was proclaimed at Athens yi. in 403 B.C., American practice not unexpectedly derives from English usage. Beginning with Ethelbert, the sixth-century king of Kent, and continuing through succeeding monarchies, “the king’s mercy”—what Rlackstone called “the most amiable prerogative” of the British Crown—gradually became a settled part of English common law until it was recognized by parliamentary statute in the sixteenth century.

 

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Verdicts Of History IV: “a Scandalous, Malicious, And Seditious Libel”

Is it libel to say that the President of the United States tried to seduce his neighbor’s wife—even if he did? Thomas Jefferson tried to gag the venomous editor of upstate New York’s Wasp; Alexander Hamilton argued brilliantly in defense of journalistic candor.

“At a Court of general Sessions of the Peace, holden at Claverack, in and for the county of Columbia, it is presented that Harry Croswell, late of the city of Hudson, in the county of Columbia aforesaid, Printer, being a malicious and seditious man, and of a depraved mind and wicked and diabolical disposition, and also deceitfully, wickedly and maliciously devising, contriving and intending, Thomas Jefferson, Esquire, President of the United States of America, to detract from, scandalize, traduce, and vilify, and to represent him, the said Thomas Jefferson, as unwortRead more »