A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Soup of the Day: Whiskey” (3/27)
“Put some whiskey in my coffee because it’s Ireland somewhere” (3/27)
“Whiskey is what beer wants to be when it grows up” (3/27)
“I don’t have enough coffee or middle fingers for today” (3/26)
“I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake” (3/26)
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Entry from November 14, 2011
“It’s a free country!”

"It’s a free country!” means that the speaker believes that he or she can disagree with another and do something that another disapproves of. The saying has a long history in the United States, although some believe that it’s been used less after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and the restrictions of some freedoms to prevent terrorism.

“This is a free country” has been cited in print since at least 1819. James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Pioneers (1823) contained the saying as “it’s a free country, and no one can stop me.”


The Free Dictionary
It’s a free country!
something that you say which means that you have the right to do something even if someone else has criticized you for it I’ll shout if I want to - it’s a free country!

Google Books
Letters from America:
Containing observations on the climate and agriculture of the western states, the manners of the people, the prospects of emigrants, &c

By James Flint
Edinburgh: W. & C. Tait
1822
Pg. 142 (June 28, 1819):
Accustomed to mix with a diversity of company at taverns, elections, and other places of public resort, they do not well brook to be excluded from private conversation. On such occasions they exclaim, “This is a free country,” or a “land of liberty,” adding a profane oath.

Google Books
The L ... family of Washington; or, A winter in the metropolis
By George Watterson
Washington, DC: Printed and published by Davis and Force
1822
Pg. 105:
“You are right,” replied my friend, “but this is a free country, and such things must be tolerated for the sake of freedom.”

Google Books
The Pioneers, or, The sources of the Susquehanna: a descriptive tale
By James Fenimore Cooper
New York, NY: Published by Charles Wiley. J. Seymour, Printer
1823
Pg. 153:
I will call her Betsy as much as I please; it’s a free country, and no one can stop me.

Google Books
The New Mirror for Travellers and Guide to the Springs
By James Kirke Paulding
New York, NY: G. & C. Carvill
1828
Pg. 90:
With these exceptions, they may say and do just what they like, in spite of papa and mama, for this is a free country.

Google Books
What I saw in New-York: or, A bird’s eye view of city life
By Joel H. Ross
Auburn, NY: Derby & Miller
1851
Pg. 63:
But for the present we must let the beggars keep on begging, and the givers keep on giving, and the living refuse to be buried — it’s a free country.

Google Books
Life at the South, or, “Uncle Tom’s cabin” as it is:
Being narratives, scenes, and incidents of the real “life of the lowly”

By Harriet Beecher Stowe
Buffalo, NY: Geo. H. Derby and Co.; Cincinnati, OH: H.W. Derby and Co.; Chicago, IL: D.B. Cooke and Co.
1852
Pg. 12:
“It’s a free country, sir; the man’s mine, and I’ll do what I please with him— that’s it!”

Google Books
Legends of the West
By James Hall
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam & Co.
1853
Pg. 380:
“Well, it’s a free country, and every man has a right to think what he pleases; but I reckon I’ve saw as many of them are fixens as any other man.”

Google Books
February 1867, The American Farmer, pg. 61, col. 2:
“Well, it’s a free country, I reckon, and I guess anybody has a license to talk as much as he pleases.”

Google Books
Of Human Bondage: a novel
By W. Somerset Maugham
London: William Heinemann
1915
Pg. 601:
“Well, what I say is, it’s a free country, and I won’t be dictated to.”

OCLC WorldCat record
It’s a free country
Author: Ben Ames Williams
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1945.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
It’s a free country - isn’t it? : you can help, keep Canada free.
Publisher: Toronto : League for Democratic Rights, 1953.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
It’s a free country
Author: Leonard Brain
Publisher: London : Longmans, 1965.
Edition/Format:  Book : Fiction : English

OCLC WorldCat record
It’s a free country : personal freedom in America after September 11
Author: Danny Goldberg; Victor Goldberg; Robert Greenwald
Publisher: New York : RDV Books, ©2002.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Ask MetaFilter
Hey, it’s a free country
October 26, 2007 8:44 AM
Do other non-U.S. countries/cultures use the phrase “It’s a free country?”

It’s a Free Country!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Phrase
We’ve all heard the phrase before, at least most of us who are over the age of 25. In fact, those of us over the age of 25 used to hear it all the time. I can personally vouch for that. What phrase am I talking about?

One that I used to hear frequently and randomly dropped as a remark or comeback in a conversation: “It’s a Free Country!”
(...)
Ever notice that you seldom hear it now? I’ve noticed.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, November 14, 2011 • Permalink