Revolutionary Dissent: The Creation of Free Speech

Revolutionary Dissent: Award-winning author to speak about the creation of free speech in America at the Lewes Public Library on Friday, April 21

Stephen D. Solomon, author, journalist, and New York University professor, will speak at the Lewes Public Library at 3 p.m., Friday, April 21 about his latest book, Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech (St. Martin’s Press, 2016). Sponsored by the History Book Festival and the Lewes Public Library, the event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing.

When members of the founding generation protested against British authority, debated separation, and then ratified the Constitution, they formed the American political character we know today – raucous, intemperate, and often mean-spirited. Revolutionary Dissent brings alive a world of colorful and stormy protests that included effigies, pamphlets, songs, sermons, cartoons, letters and liberty trees. Uninhibited dissent provided a distinctly American meaning to the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and press at a time when the legal doctrine inherited from England allowed prosecutions of those who criticized government.

If American politics seem contentious today, they are tame compared to what Solomon reveals from our revolutionary past. From the inflammatory engravings of Paul Revere, the political theater of Alexander McDougall, the liberty tree protests of Ebenezer McIntosh, and the oratory of Patrick Henry, Solomon shares the stories of the dissenters who created the American idea of the liberty of thought.

Revolutionary Dissent includes characters from Delaware, and Mike DiPaolo, Director of the Lewes Historical Society, will interview Solomon about Delaware’s role in the creation of free speech in our nation, among other things.

Solomon is a professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He is the director of Business and Economic Reporting and the Marjorie Deane Professor of Financial Journalism. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, he has written for numerous national publications including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and Inc. He won the two most prestigious prizes in business writing, Gerald Loeb Award and the John Hancock Award for Excellence, as well as the Hillman Prize.

The History Book Festival is a non-profit formed through the Greater Lewes Foundation. The first of its kind in the nation, the festival draws authors of history – fiction and non-fiction, adult and children's titles – to the Delaware beaches. In conjunction with launching the first full festival on October 6 and 7, 2017, the organization is partnering with other arts and non-profit organizations to bring history authors for special events like this year-round.

“Bringing Stephen Solomon to Lewes in cooperation with our community partners is exactly what makes the History Book Festival so exciting for Lewes and for Delaware,” said Jen Mason, festival co-chair. “Steve is the fifth history author whom we have hosted since May, drawing audiences from across the state and beyond. Learning about history in this dynamic and engaging way helps us to understand our world and our lives in context, adding tremendous value for each of us as active citizens. This is what our libraries and the History Book Festival are all about.”

 “We are excited to be a partner of the History Book Festival and are pleased to host this literary event,” added Andrea Tillinghast, Lewes Public Library Director.

For more information about the History Book Festival, visit For the latest news from the Lewes Public Library, visit