Home » Library » Historical Library » The Libel Laws

Historical Library Disclaimer

The Historical Library contains writings written before 1970, only. For material written during or after 1970, please refer to the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

This Historical Library is provided for those doing research into the history of nontheism. It is not intended to be--and should not be used as--a source of modern, up-to-date information regarding atheistic issues. Those looking for modern critiques of theism should go to the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

All of the Historical Library authors are dead--and in many cases have been so for several decades. We will not reply to email addressed to dead authors, and therefore any email addressed to these authors will be ignored. Similarly, we do not reply to feedback regarding faulty scholarship on the part of dead authors, nor do we correct spelling errors and/or typographical errors (most of which result from the scanning and OCR process) in their articles.
This document has been made available by the Bank of Wisdom.

The Libel Laws

Order books by and about Robert Ingersoll now.


Robert Green Ingersoll

Question. Have you any suggestions to make in regard to remodeling the libel laws?

Answer. I believe that every article appearing in a paper should be signed by the writer. If it is libelous, then the writer and the publisher should both be held responsible in damages. The law on this subject, if changed, should throw greater safeguards around the reputation of the citizen. It does not seem to me that the papers have any right to complain. Probably a good many suits are brought that should not be instituted, but just think of the suits that are not brought.

Personally I have no complaint to make, as it would be very hard to find anything in any paper against me, but it has never occurred to me that the press needed any greater liberty than it now enjoys.

It might be a good thing for a paper to publish each week, a list of mistakes, if this could be done without making that edition too large. But certainly when a false and scandalous charge has been made by mistake or as the result of imposition, great pains should be taken to give the retraction at once and in a way to attract attention.

I suppose the papers are liable to be imposed upon — liable to print thousands of articles to which the attention of the editor or proprietor was not called. Still, that is not the fault of the man whose character is attacked. On the whole I think the papers have the advantage of the average citizen as the law now is.

If all articles had to be signed by the writer, I am satisfied the writer would be more careful and less liable to write anything of a libelous nature. I am willing to admit that I have given but little attention to the subject, probably for the reason that I have never been a sufferer.

It would hardly do to hold only the writer responsible. Suppose a man writes a libelous article, leaves the country, and then the article is published; is there no remedy? A suit for libel is not much of a remedy, I admit, but it is some. It is like the bayonet in war. Very few are injured by bayonets, but a good many are afraid that they may be.

The Herald, Now York, October 1888

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201