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Liberty of conscience, encompassing free speech, a free press, and freedom of religion, has a rich history in Anglo-American political thought, long predating the drafting of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1789. The debate over licensing acts in seventeenth-century England; the advancement of principles of toleration by John Milton, Algernon Sidney, and John Locke in the same period; the renowned, impassioned, and highly influential essays of John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in Cato’s Letters; the flourishing of a relatively free press and free church in eighteenth-century colonial America; and the liberty-championing assertions in the several declarations of rights in the newly independent states of America all played a critical role in shaping and inspiring the popular views in America that made the First Amendment possible.