The History of Free Speech

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This timeline chronicles the history of free speech beginning with the signing of the Magna Carta. See how the history of the First Amendment is rooted in the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties and 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. By examining the history of the First Amendment and free speech, we hope visitors will see the rich history of advocates who put their lives and reputations on the line to ensure strong First Amendment protections for expressive activity.