Censorship Edward Atkinson, 19th century Elon Musk

As Americans continue to face years of sacked Foganda, government censorship, and government-inspired, if not managed, personal censorship, they will recall several previous episodes of government interference in the free flow of information, including alien and sedition laws. The suppression of the extinct tract of the Antibelam Slave South of 1798, and the sedition law of 1918.

In a largely forgotten episode of government censorship, the U.S. occupied the Philippines and Edward Atkinson (1827-1905), a wealthy East Massachusetts industrialist and executive of an insurance company. Much like Elon Musk, Atkinson was an avid inventor, most famous of Aladdin Owen, an early crock pot that was fueled by kerosene and heated by asbestos. It was not a spacecraft, but it was reusable. Atkinson was also one of the first scientific dietitians to approve of the radiated and dollar-a-day diet of masks. Also like Musk, Atkinson was quite a troll.

Most importantly, Atkinson was a staunch liberal, a staunch opponent of classical diversity, and slavery, customs, national finance, and imperialism. Naturally, he joined the American-Imperialist Opposition League, which was formed in June 1898 in protest of the Spanish-American War, as a vice-president.

In 1899, the aging but powerful Atkinson joined the battle of heart and mind by self-publishing two short anti-war “texts”. The value of a national crime And Hell of war and its punishment. For his courage to share his thoughts on current events, some have called him a traitor, others a patriot. Some ex-friends abandoned him like a used covid mask, while some of his ex-enemies became warm friends.

Since the Mutual Interactive Broadcast Media was still a century away, and the telegrams were then a series of dots and dashes, the brave Atkinson sought to increase the influence of his pamphlets by asking the U.S. government for the names and addresses of U.S. officials and enlisted workers. Occupying the Philippines, one of the territories occupied during the brief conflict with Spain a year ago.

Surprisingly, the federal government quietly responded to Atkinson’s liberal proposal. After Atkinson insisted on sending hundreds of copies of his pamphlets to Manila anyway, the U.S. Postmaster General ordered them confiscated before leaving San Francisco Bay. Intentionally or not, the conspiracy brought Atkinson free publicity enough to remove 135,000 copies of his possibly anti-state publication.

Atkinson’s response to the stupid bureaucrats has been invaluable, though the 57 characters too long for a tweet:

I think cabinet members have graduated from a shelter for stupid and weak minds. They obviously found their fault because the administration papers suddenly stopped attacking me on the same day and I miss the free ad. I am now trying to provoke them again for another attack.

To provoke another lucrative attack, Atkinson wrote another anti-imperialist pamphlet, Criminal Aggression: Committed by Whom?, Which he called “still my strongest bid for limited accommodation in Fort Warren,” is the iconic castle in Boston Harbor that was converted into a prison during the Civil War. Alas, government officials refuse to take the bait and martyr the old man. Apparently, Atkinson, like Mask, was very rich, famous and intelligent that could not be canceled, let alone imprisoned.

Atkinson did not sue the postal system for interfering in the distribution of his leaflets, probably because the military in the Philippines could have stopped them anyway. Importantly, the Postmaster General did not interfere in their internal distribution.

And this is the lesson of the episode. Despite the similarities between Atkinson and Mask, and the coordination between the “administration papers” and today’s media echo chambers, the line remains that the government was not prepared to cross. The administration controlled some newspapers but not all of them. Atkinson could not mail his tracts to Manila, but received large quantities by private transport. And they were widely read and discussed at home, where the policy was set.

Moreover, Atkinson did not have to worry about the government taking revenge with an audit because there was no income tax at the national or state level until after his death. Nor was he concerned about increasing SEC verification because the SEC was formed much later, at the time of the new treaty, and the first state securities Blue Sky Act was still more than a decade and a half away from the continent. Clearly, Atkinson knew that no one was even thinking of seizing his bank account, because only a tyrant could or would do that. Freedom defenders are not so lucky today.

Robert E. Right

Robert E.  Right

Robert E. Wright is a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

He is the author (or co-editor) of more than two dozen major books, book series and edited collections, including AIER. Best of Thomas Payne (2021) and Financial exclusion (2019). He has also written numerous articles for (including) important journals, including American Economic Review, Business History Review, Independent review, Journal of Private Enterprise, Money reviewAnd Southern Economic Review.

Since taking his PhD, Robert has taught business, economics and policy courses at Augustana University, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, University of Virginia and elsewhere. History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997.

Selected publications

“The Political Economy of Modern Wildlife Management: How Commercialization Can Reduce Game Excess.” Independent review (Spring 2022).

“Sowing the Seeds of the Future Crisis: The Rise of the SEC and the Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) Division, 1971-75.” Co-author with Andrew Smith. Business History Review (Winter 2021).

“AI ≠ UBI Income Portfolio Adjustment to Technological Transformation.” Alexandra Prozegalinska co-author. Boundaries of Human Dynamics: Social Networks (2021).

“Liberty is for everyone: Stowe and Uncle Tom’s cabinIndependent review (Winter 2020).

“Pioneer Financial News National Broadcast Journalist Wilma Sauss, NBC Radio, 1954-1980.” History of Journalism (Fall 2018).

“Evolution of the Republican Model of Anglo-American Corporate Governance.” Progress in the financial economy (2015).

“The Leading Role of Private Enterprise in the American Transport Age, 1790-1860.” Journal of Private Enterprise (Spring 2014)

“Antebellum is a corporate insurer in America.” Co-author with Christopher Kingston. Business History Review (Autumn 2012).

“The Deadlist of Games: The Institution of Dueling.” Co-author with Christopher Kingston. Southern Economic Journal (April 2010).

“Alexander Hamilton, central banker: Crisis management during the 1792 US financial crisis.” Richard E. Silla and David J. Co-author with Cowen 6 Business History Review (Spring 2009).

“Integration of Trans-Atlantic Capital Markets, 1790-1845.” Co-author with Richard Silla and Jack Wilson. Money review (December 2006), 613-44.

“State ‘currency’ and conversion into US dollars: to clear up some confusion.” Co-author with Ron Michner. American Economic Review (June 2005).

“US IPO Market Reform: Lessons from History and Theory,” Accounting, business and financial history (November 2002).

“Bank Ownership and Lending Types in New York and Pennsylvania, 1781-1831.” Business History Review (Spring 1999).

Find Robert

SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=362640

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3792-3506

Academia: https://robertwright.academia.edu/

Google: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=D9Qsx6QAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra

Twitter, Gator and Parlor: @robertewright

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