100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Jacob Abrams

Jacob Abrams

Free Speech

“The Only Just War is the Social Revolution”

Abrams v. United States

250 U.S. 616 (1919)

Jacob Abrams was born in Russia on January 24, 1886. The Abramovskys—for that was the family name—lived in Uman, a town in Ukraine about 150 miles north of Odessa. His mother died when he was four, and his stepmother treated him harshly. For kindness he looked to his older sister, Manya, and to his aunt, Esther Kretchmer, described by a relative as “a ray of light in Jacob's life.” He attended a Hebrew school until the age of twelve. In 1905, when an abortive revolution against the Czar occurred, Abrams, at nineteen, was not only old enough but also sufficiently radical to take part. The following year, Manya Abrams ...

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