At the time of the American Founding, freedom of speech and of the press were widely accepted and protected. Many state constitutions already included provisions for these freedoms, and they were adopted into the Bill of Rights with very little debate. Unfortunately, this lack of debate means that there is a relative lack of clarity about their meaning. The historical record provides some insight on the importance of free expression to the Founders as well as the limits that they imposed upon it.
Throughout its history, the rights of speech and press have frequently been blended together into a single freedom of expression, although occasionally certain individual issues treat them separately.