1958 4¢ Freedom of Press
Issue Date: September 22, 1958
City: Columbia, Missouri
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 10 ½ x 11
This stamp was issued in Columbia, Missouri, to honor the 50th anniversary of the founding of the first school of journalism in the U.S. The school was founded in 1908 at the University of Missouri. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees journalists a free press.
Freedom of the Press – A Core American Ideal
Thomas Jefferson was a strong supporter of the Freedom of the Press, and frequently expressed his opinion on its importance. In one letter to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1823, Jefferson wrote, “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”
Protected in the Bill of Rights, newspapers were instrumental in the adoption of the U.S. Constitution that protects them. A series of 85 essays were published in newspapers across the country. Called the “Federalist Papers,” they were written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. And it was Madison, also called the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” who proposed a list of 12 amendments. After fierce debate, 10 of the amendments were adopted.
Madison drew heavily upon “The Virginia Declaration of Rights,” which had been adopted by Virginia on June 12, 1776 – before the Declaration of Independence was completed. The document declared “the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.”