By the First Amendment the right of the people is guaranteed "peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances."Almost the only discussion of this provision by the Supreme Court is that contained in the opinion in United States v. Cruikslmuk21 in which it is said: "The right of the people peaceably to assemble for lawful purposes existed long before the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. In fact, it is and always has been one of the attributes of citizenship under a free government. It 'derives its source' to use the language of Chief Justice Marshall in Gibbons v. Ogden (9 Wh, 1, 6 L. ed. 23) 'from those laws whose authority is acknowledged by civilized man throughout the world.' It is found wherever civilization exists. It is not, therefore, a right granted to the people of the Constitution. The government of the United States found it in existence, with the obligation on the part of the States to afford it protection. As no direct power over it was granted to Congress, it remains, according to the ruling in Gibbons v. Ogden, subject to state jurisdiction. The particular Amendment now under consideration assumes the existence of the right of the people to assemble for lawful purposes, and protects it against encroachment by Congress. The right was not created by the Amendment; neither was its continuance guaranteed, except as against congressional interference. For their protection in its enjoyment, therefore, the people must look to the States."
19 Trial of Matthew Lyon, Wharton's St. Trial, 333; Trial of Thomas Cooper, Ibid. 569; Trial of J. F. T. Callender, Ibid. 688; Trial of Anthony Haswell, Ibid. 684.
20 The act of 1798 (July 14) provided: "If any person shall write, print, utter, or publish . . . any false, slanderous, and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the Constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage, or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people or government." such prison shall, on being convicted, be punished, etc. The questionable feature of this law is thus seen to be that it declares criminal not only publications which are seditious, but those which defame the government or its chief officials. For an excellent discussion of this law, as well as of the general subject of seditious libel. see the article "The Jurisdiction of the United States over Seditious Libel" by Mr. Bikle in The American Law Register, Vol. L, 1 (Jan. 1902).
21 92 U. S. 542: 23 L. ed. 588.
The court go on to observe, however, that: "The right of the people peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances, or for anything else connected with the powers or the duties of the National Government, is an attribute of national citizenship, and, as such, under the protection of and guaranteed by the United States."