By Frederick S. Lane
A sweeping tale of the ideal to privateness because it sped alongside colonial postal routes, telegraph wires, and today’s fiber-optic cables on a collision direction with presidents and programmers, librarians and letter-writers.
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Extra info for American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right
Entertaining these views, I can not sanction, and will not condemn the step you have taken. ” The idea was taken up with vigor by South Carolina senator (and former vice president) John C. Calhoun, an ardent defender of states’ rights and slavery. S. ” Through various parliamentary maneuvers, Calhoun contrived to have the vote on approving the bill for a third reading end in an 18–18 tie, which meant that as president of the Senate, Vice President Van Buren would cast the deciding vote. Van Buren did his best to avoid the dilemma, wanting neither to disappoint the North nor anger the South.
But Otis was not content to argue merely that the potential for abuse rendered the writs of assistance invalid; he went much further, and argued that the act of Parliament establishing the writs was void because such writs are contrary to the common law—that is, the accumulated judicial decisions—of the English people. “No Acts of Parliament can establish such a writ,” Otis thundered, “though it should be made in the very words of the petition, it would be void. ” The idea that even acts of Parliament are subject to the overarching authority of an English constitution was a concept that would find fertile soil among the colonists, but it fell on deaf ears in the State House.
S. Post Office offered concrete evidence of just how popular postcards had become: for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, its postal carriers delivered 677,777,798 postcards—at a time when the entire population of the United States was less than 90 million. The postcard phenomenon convincingly demonstrated that from the start, Americans were willing to give up a certain amount of privacy in exchange for the fun and convenience of using the cards. But postcards also demonstrated one other critical element of the ongoing 31 32 American Privacy privacy debate in this country: the fact that the definition of “privacy” is a highly individual concept.