According to Charles Dickens, who visited the United States in 1842, American men were constantly masticating tobacco. He was thoroughly shocked by the "two odious practices of chewing and expectorating" -- a habit that he found to be both "offensive and sickening."
"In all the public places of America," wrote the novelist, "this filthy custom is recognized. In the courts of law the judge has his spittoon, the crier his, the witness his, and the prisoner his." They all spit "incessantly." Worse still, In the hospitals the students of medicine are requested, by notices upon the wall, to eject there tobacco juice into the boxes provided for that purpose, and not to discolor the stairs." A further horror: "in public buildings visitors are implored ... to squirt the essence of their plugs... into the national spittoons, and not about the bases of the marble columns. This custom is inseparably mixed up with every meal and morning call, and with all the transactions of social life. The stranger will find it in its full bloom and glory, luxuriant in all its alarming recklessness."
It must have been horrible. Dickens says that every floor, staircase, carpet was disfigured with traces of "tinctured saliva." It's hard to imagine that our revered ancestors lived in such a foul, smelly, slippery environment or that your doc would have a spittoon at his feet while he discussed your symptoms.
Eventually, there was a movement to ban public spitting, but it took almost a century before the odious custom was conquered (except on the baseball field, where it flourishes today in all its ancient glory). There were those who resisted change, of course. To prohibit spitting was to regulate and ultimately to deny a human freedom. If the catchword had been invented, the right-wingers of the day would have been shouting, the way they do now when it's not the spitting but the smoking of tobacco that's in question: "Spitters' rights! Spitters' rights! Nanny state! Nanny state!"
When Sir Simonds d'Ewes visited Paris two centuries before Dickens toured America, he was shocked to find the steps of the Louvre littered with "a thousand ordures." Defecating in public was the French custom and a human freedom. Eventually, however, laws and customs changed. But I'm absolutely positive that 1640s libertarians were out there on the barricades, screaming "Shitters' rights! Shitters' rights! Nanny state! Nanny state!"