John Peter Zenger
1 Early life
2.1 "Cato" article
3 Death 4 Legacy and honors 5 See also 6 Further reading 7 Primary sources 8 References 9 External links
Peter Zenger was born in 1697, a son of Nicolaus Eberhard Zenger and
his wife Johanna. His father was a school teacher in
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A page from Zenger's New-York Weekly Journal, 7 January 1733
In 1733, Zenger printed copies of newspapers in New York to voice his
disagreement with the actions of newly appointed colonial governor
William Cosby. On his arrival in New York City, Cosby had plunged into
a rancorous quarrel with the council of the colony over his salary.
Unable to control the colony's supreme court, he removed Chief Justice
Lewis Morris, replacing him with
James DeLancey of the Royal Party.
Supported by members of the Popular Party, Zenger's New-York Weekly
Journal continued to publish articles critical of the royal governor.
Finally, Cosby issued a proclamation condemning the newspaper's
"divers scandalous, virulent, false and seditious reflections."
Zenger was charged with libel. James Alexander was Zenger's first
counsel, but the court found him in contempt and removed him from the
case. After more than eight months in prison, Zenger went to trial,
defended by the Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Hamilton and the New York
lawyer William Smith, Sr. The case was now a cause célèbre, with
public interest at fever-pitch. Rebuffed repeatedly by chief justice
James DeLancey during the trial, Hamilton decided to plead his
client's case directly to the jury. After the lawyers for both sides
finished their arguments, the jury retired, only to return in ten
minutes with a verdict of not guilty.
In defending Zenger in this landmark case, Hamilton and Smith
attempted to establish the precedent that a statement, even if
defamatory, is not libelous if it can be proved, thus affirming
freedom of the press in America; however, succeeding royal governors
clamped down on freedom of the press until the American Revolution.
This case is the groundwork of freedom of the press, not its legal
precedent. However, if they succeeded in convincing the jury, they
failed in establishing the legal precedent. As late as 1804, the
A libel is not less the libel for being true...But this doctrine only holds true as to private and personal failings; and it is quite otherwise when the crimes of men come to affect the publick…Machiavel says, Calumny is pernicious, but accusation beneficial, to a state; and he shews instances where states have suffered or perished for not having, or for neglecting, the power to accuse great men who were criminals, or thought to be so…surely it cannot be more pernicious to calumniate even good men, than not to be able to accuse ill ones.
Zenger died in New York on July 28, 1746, and is believed to be buried
in Trinity Churchyard in Lower Manhattan. His widow continued the
family business until Zenger’s eldest son, John, replaced his mother
as head of the print shop in December 1748. John Zenger continued
publication of the Journal for another three years.
Legacy and honors
During World War II the
Areopagitica Federal Hall The New York Weekly Journal Freedom of the press Freedom of speech in the United States Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site
Copeland, David. "The Zenger Trial." Media Studies Journal 14#2
Covert, Cathy. "‘Passion Is Ye Prevailing Motive’: The Feud Behind
the Zenger Case." Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (1973)
50#1 pp: 3-10.
Eldridge, Larry D. "Before Zenger: Truth and Seditious Speech in
Colonial America, 1607-1700." American Journal of Legal History
(1995): 337-358. in JSTOR
Levy, Leonard W. "Did the Zenger Case Really Matter? Freedom of the
Press in Colonial New York." William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of
Early American History (1960): 35-50. in JSTOR
Levy, Leonard Williams, ed.
Freedom of the press
John Peter Zenger; his press, his trial, and a bibliography of Zenger imprints ... also a reprint of the first edition of the trial by Livingston Rutherfurd New York : Dodd, Mead & company 1904 The tryal of John Peter Zenger, of New-York, printer, who was lately try'd and acquitted for printing and publishing a libel against the government: with the pleadings and arguments on both sides London : Printed for J. Wilford 1738
^ "7c. The Trial of John Peter Zenger". US History. Retrieved October
^ Olson, Alison (2000). "The Zenger Case Revisited: Satire, Sedition
and Political Debate in Eighteenth Century America". Early American
Literature. 35 (3): 223–245.
^ a b "Peter Zenger and Freedom of the Press". Early America.
Retrieved October 24, 2012.
^ "Zenger Trial". History Empire. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
^ Horton, Scott (28 February 2011). "The Obstinate Dr. Heicklen".
^ a b c Jones, Henry Z., Jr. (1985). The Palatine Families of New York
1710. Universal City, CA. ISBN 9780961388829.
^ Jones, Henry Z., Jr. (1991). More Palatine Families. Universal City
CA. p. 381. ISBN 9780897253949.
^ a b Keene, Ann T. (2013). "John Peter Zenger". Immigrant
Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the
Present. German Historical Institute.
The New York Weekly Journal
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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 74649148 LCCN: n50047931 ISNI: 0000 0000 8155 3440 GND: 118772546 SUDOC: 058490434 NDL: 00621