What’s Online no. 4—Inland Printer 1899

Several months ago I stumbled across the complete 1899 issues of the Inland Printer on Google Books. I downloaded the bound set and in skimming the pages this item caught my attention.

It is not creditable to the American people that they have to be “lawed” into respecting the flag of their country and the uniforms of the service. New York has found it necessary to pass a law making it a misdemeanor to publicly mutilate or deface the American flag. When the leaven of Americanism gets worked into the fibers of our mixed population there will, let us hope, be a deeper and purer patriotism and less hysterics.
p. 187, Inland Printer May 1899 vol. XXIII, No. 2

Two things surprised me about this tiny article: 1. That it had nothing to do with printing or any of its allied trades, and 2. that the topic was one that had recently (during the first administration of George W. Bush) been hotly debated. I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment and believe that acts of mutilation and desecration of the American flag are not inherently signs of unpatriotic behavior. I think that the Inland Printer’s view that patriotism cannot be “lawed” into existence is a sound one.