Freedom of speech at stake

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The article reviews the history of freedom of speech in the early American Republic and focuses on two speeches in the House of Representatives, one in the context of the Bill of Rights in 1789 and the other in the context of the Sedition Act in 1798. In the analysis of speeches it is helpful to employ the notion of an informal fallacy. The article offers a definition of the concept and illustrates its application by examining two cases in point,<i>ad socordiam</i>and<i>ad hominem</i>, in the authentic material. An awareness of such fallacious arguments is important to the student of political rhetoric and of any discourse meant to be persuasive.


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