The 1st Amendment – from 1789 to 1961 to…?

November 29, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

On January 8, 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Richard Price, a Welsh moral philosopher, Nonconformist minister and mathematician. In his letter he expressed the following, “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” This belief that the American people, when well informed, were capable of identifying right and choosing it, sits as the core of the 1st Amendment foundation of free speech and freedom of the press.

Flash forward  to a spring day in April 1961 when the current American president, John F Kennedy, spoke to The American Newspaper Publishers Association. Hear, in his closing words as printed in The New York Times for April 28, 1961, the same reverence for the right of the American people to know the facts as was voiced by his predecessor over a century and a half before:

“It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation–an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people–to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well–the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.”

As a lover of history, especially as it is chronicled within the pages of newspapers, I am always thankful our founders understood how necessary freedom of speech and a free press are to maintaining a free republic. It is encouraging to see our government voice a passion in support of this pillar of Democracy for nearly 200 years.  Hopefully We The People will not be silenced and will not permit this inalienable right to be gutted.

January 21st Thru History… An Eye Focused From Whence We Came…

January 21, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

A very wise man once said … “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr. With this in mind, I decided to see what had happened over the years on January 21st hoping to glean a bit of wisdom and foresight as I approach this January 21st. As of today, we here at Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers, have dozens of items listed from January twenty firsts of the past. Below are a few that jumped off the pages for me.
Two elegant actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age died exactly three years apart … Barbra Stanwyck died in 1990 and Audrey Hepburn, all-time favorite of my 4th daughter Rebekah and me, died on January 21, 1993. The movie world will always have an Audrey sized hole in it. Reminiscing about her persona drives me to be more gracious.
On January 21, 1961, JFK was inaugurated. THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR headline reads: “Kennedy Calls Mankind To ‘Quest For Peace’”. I wonder, as those words left his mouth, if he ever imagined that roughly a year later he would stand at the brink of what some thought would become WWIII. His short life is a reminder that we never know what tomorrow may bring and so we must approach each day with an eye to its impact on the future.
Finally, only because I ran out of time, not because I ran out of stories, I focused on the mine explosion of January 21, 1935 in Gilberton, Pennsylvania. I live in mine country and stories of mine explosions riddle Northern Pennsylvania newspapers along with stories of families decimated by horrendous working conditions and no hope for a better life. This particular mine explosion story, along with the endless others, is a constant reminder of how good we have it in America on January 21, 2021 and that we should keep an eye focused from whence we came so that we appreciate where we have come to.