Reading Revolutions: Intellectual History

Writing, Speaking, Going to Jail:
A Reader's Theater of the First Amendment, with Discussion

Franklin D. Roberts
and Teresa Swartz Roberts

Frank and Teresa Swartz Roberts presenting lecture

Frank Roberts and Teresa Swartz Roberts open the Reading Revolutions Lecture Series

Frank Roberts laughing at a jokeTeresa Swartz Roberts explaining conceptFrank Roberts during the presentation

Their dramatic dialog brought out issues facing constitutional freedom of speech.  From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 which President Adams hoped to use to defeat his opponents to the Supreme Court's support of the Sedition Act of 1918 in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote that "the question in every case is whether the words used are in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." they explored attempts both to define and to limit freedom of speech. 

Thought provoking issues were raised concerning the role of government, the press, and the populace in deciding how much free speech society is willing to entertain.

Teresa and Frank switched smoothly from a debate form into dramatization and then into discussion.  They skillfully used different methods to illustrate and raise questions concerning issues that faced us in the past and those that are under current debate.

Teresa and Frank during the question period

Following a lively question period, the audience was invited to come up and leaf through several of the holdings in the Reading Revolutions collection including the first edition of John Adams' A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America.


Members of the audience examine books


"Writing, Speaking, Going to Jail: A Reader's Theater of the First Amendment, with Discussion."  Account of a lecture given by Franklin D. Roberts and Teresa Swartz Roberts.  University of Maine at Farmington, August 31, 2005.  Retrieved _______.   <>.


Marilyn Shea, 2005