Zechariah Chafee

Zechariah Chafee

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Zechariah Chafee

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Zechariah Chafee, Jr. (December 7, 1885 – February 8, 1957) was an American judicial philosopher and civil libertarian. An advocate for free speech, he was described by Senator Joseph McCarthy as "dangerous" to the United States. Legal scholar Richard Primus called Chafee “possibly the most important First Amendment scholar of the first half of the twentieth century.”


Born in Providence, Rhode Island, he graduated from Brown University, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi, in 1907. Later, he received a law degree from Harvard University, completing his LL.B. in 1913. He practiced at the law firm of Tillinghast & Collins from 1913-1916. He became a professor at Harvard in 1916, where he remained until 1956.

Chafee wrote several works about civil liberties, including:
  • Freedom of Speech, 1920
  • Free speech in the United States, 1941 (expanded edition of Freedom of Speech)
  • Government and Mass Communications, 1947
  • The Blessings of Liberty, 1956

right|page=6|thumb|200px|Freedom of Speech in War Times

Chafee's first significant work (Freedom of Speech) established modern First Amendment theory. Inspired by the United States' suppression of radical speech and ideas during the First World War, Chafee edited and updated a collection of several of his law review articles. In these individual articles-cum-chapters, he assessed significant...
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