From the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) comes this citation of historian Leonard Levy from his book Emergence of a Free Press (1985)
…the persistent notion of Colonial America as a society where freedom of expression was cherished is an hallucination which ignores history. […] The American people simply did not believe or understand that freedom of thought and expression means equal freedom for the other person, especially the one with hated ideas.
Even more to the point, MTSU shows proof of this in the pudding.
…the Sedition Act of 1798, which was designed to silence political opposition in the form of those Democratic-Republicans who favored better American relations with France. The draconian law prohibited “publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government … with intent to defame … or to bring them … into contempt or disrepute.” The law was used to silence political opposition.