By Frederick S. Lane
A sweeping tale of the fitting 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
However, due to the delicate nature of his negotiations with the French government over the purchase of the patent for his invention, Daguerre was reluctant to disclose to Morse many of the actual details of his photographic process. Daguerre’s invention was announced to the world at a wellattended session of the French Academy of Sciences by François Arago on August 19, 1839. Translations of the daguerreotype process spread rapidly from Paris to London to New York. Although complicated and painstaking, the process of making daguerreotypes was not beyond the competence of most amateur hobbyists, and the necessary materials quickly vanished from store shelves.
L. J. Creswell noted the popularity of postcards in Germany and Great Britain and strongly recommended that the postal laws of the United States be amended to permit their use. S. Post Office entered the postcard business in 1873. Creswell, who resigned in 1874, obviously had some idea of just how popular postcards would be: based on preorders, he had 100 million cards printed for the first year alone. When the cards were first offered for sale in New York City on May 15, 1873, more than 200,000 cards were purchased in the first two hours.
As with the Declaration of Independence, the evident concern for preserving autonomy and freedom was the functional equivalent of protecting personal privacy. The text of several of the amendments in the Bill of Rights makes this patently clear. The Third Amendment, for instance, specifically prohibits legislation like the Quartering Act: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. Similarly, the language of the First Amendment is designed to protect the autonomy of American citizens in making some of their most private decisions about their beliefs, their thoughts, and their associations: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.