Praise for Liberty’s First Crisis:
Slack engagingly reveals how the Federalist attack on the First Amendment almost brought down the Republic…He shows that the Bill of Rights is not the source of our freedoms but rather a mechanism of protection, disallowing Congress from enacting bills that would infringe on them…An illuminating book of American history…
For those who think that partisan conflict is a cable-driven 21st-century phenomenon, Charlie Slack has written a powerful and engaging narrative that puts things in perspective. By plunging back into the 1790s, Slack brings one of America’s defining crises back to vivid life, reminding us that democracy has always been the tenderest of flowers. This is a terrific piece of history.
Imagine a novel in which a band of hard-drinking, street-fighting, badass rebels take on the rulers of a powerful new empire, risking everything in a struggle that will determine the fate of American freedom. Then imagine that it’s not a work of fiction but the history of the early United States and that the villains attempting to impose a tyrannical regime on Americans were some of our greatest national heroes. Present this riveting, little-known, but painfully relevant story in the prose of a master storyteller and you have Charles Slack’s Liberty’s First Crisis.
This is a story about the true meaning of freedom, how America’s founding fathers wrestled over it, and how it nearly slipped through their (and our) grasp. Deeply researched and cogently analyzed, Charles Slack’s Liberty’s First Crisis molds the dramatic events swirling around the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 into a mesmerizing, uniquely American tale—complete with fistfights, insults, canings, and rigged courts.Most importantly, it underscores the high-minded reasoning, the courage, the sacrifice needed to achieve that most fleeting and invaluable of human conditions: freedom. Slack has created an indelible story.
Charles Slack plunged me right into the cauldron of the 1790s, when politics was personal, personalitieswere larger than life, the First Amendment was an untested idea, and no one knew what kind of place the United States might turn out to be. Liberty’s First Crisis is like being there, and it makes me marvel anew at the miracle that Americans wrought.
Fantastic characters, vibrant storytelling and a hugely important message for our time. When I reached the last page, I wanted to stand up and applaud. Slack’s heroes took up residence in my imagination, where I’m sure they’ll remain. I will be recommending this book far and wide.