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In the second chapter of On Liberty, John Stuart Mill mentions in a note the "Government Press Prosecutions of 1858". He further writes that "The offence charged was not that of criticising institutions, or the acts or persons of rulers, but of circulating what was deemed an immoral doctrine, the lawfulness of Tyrannicide."

What events prompted the Government Press Prosecutions of 1858 and how did the government respond? Is this event known under any other name?

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In the late part of 1858, Count Charles Montalembert of France was put on trial and prosecuted by the French government for writing an article titled "A Debate on India in the English Parliament". The French government took the position that certain passages of this article were "seditious and an outrage upon the existing Government" of France. (This link will take you to a book that provides a full accounting of the actual trial.)

This trial was rather infamous at the time and was a key example of Press Laws that were being put into place in an attempt to stifle the press and limit what could be printed. Basically, these laws undermined the concept of the freedom of the press and restricted the press from printing whatever they deemed printworthy, and more specifically, anything that might criticize the government.

The punishment for crimes such as this basically amounted to exile. The person found guilty was kicked out of the country and not permitted to retain their citizenship. Montalembert had apparently expected to be found guilty, and therefore had begun planning his new and future residency to take place in England.

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