It was on this day in 1798 that it became illegal in the United States for anyone to say, write or publish “false, scandalous, and malicious” comments about government officials or policies. Signed by John Adams, it was passed during the Quasi-War with France and was highly controversial at the time. At least 25 people (one of whom was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin and another a sitting member of Congress) were arrested for violating the act. The law had a sunset clause that made it expire right before Adam’s term as President ended, and Thomas Jefferson pardoned everyone who had been convicted of breaking the Sedition Act after becoming President himself.
The earliest event that Wiki takes note of occurring on this day is “1223 – Louis VIII becomes King of France upon the death of his father, Philip II of France” and the most recent is “2003 – In an effort to discredit U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had written an article critical of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Washington Post columnist Robert Novak reveals that Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame is a CIA “operative”.”
A few other things that also took place on this day are:
1881 – Pat Garrett shoots and kills William H. Bonney Jr, aka Billy the Kid.
1933 – Germany makes all political parties illegal, with the exception of the Nazi Party.
Happy birthday to Nick McCabe, Matthew Fox, Joel Silver, Harry Dean Stanton, and Vincent Pastore.