This work examines the operation of the First Amendment, especially where it concerns freedom of the press, during the nineteenth century. It examines contemporary nineteenth century views on press freedom, placing them in the context of the issues that prompted and shaped them. Primary sources--pamphlets, speeches, sermons, letters, diaries, newspapers, and official documents--were used to highlight free press issues. It confirms that First Amendment rights were controversial issues for many nineteenth century Americans. "The Course of Tolerance" examines previously ignored issues such as the Postal Bill of 1836 and press freedom during the Reconstruction period in the South, making this the most comprehensive volume on its subject to date. Other topics included are libel, the War of 1812, abolitionism, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Through treatment of these issues, the reader is introduced to a broad variety of the nineteenth century's writings, many of which have not been analyzed thoroughly in this century. Following the main body of the book is a selected bibliography and index. This volume will be of great interest to students of communications law, journalism history, and First Amendment theory and philosophy.