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Zenger, John P. (1697-1746) New-York weekly journal. [Vol. 932, no. 51 (October 21, 1734)]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06108.03 Author/Creator: Zenger, John P. (1697-1746) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Newspaper Date: 21 October, 1734 Pagination: 4 p. ; 28 x 18 cm.

Summary of Content: Contains an account of a meeting at Court, in London, between King George II, Queen Caroline, and Tomo Chachi, Indian king of the Creek Nation. News from The Hague reports on a battle fought between the French and Italian under the commands of Marshal de Coigny and Count Merci. The battle was fought during the War of the Polish Succession. Includes an editorial in which the writer defends Zenger and his correspondents. The writer argues that the Governor (Willian Cosby) falsley accuses Zenger and others of libel and of being enemies of the government, simply because they are not "creatures of a governor." The editorial is continued in the next issue. In addition to the editorials, the journal also includes a section for New York news, entires and departures of the New York Customs house, and advertisements. There is no designated foreign affairs section.

Background Information: German-born printer John Peter Zenger emigrated to America in 1710 and became an apprentice in the printing office of William Bradford the elder. On 5 November, 1733, Zenger began publishing the "New York ...Weekly Journal" which became the organ of the party that was opposed to the provincial governor. Its lampoons severely attacked the government and greatly contributed toward the loosening of bonds between England and the colonies. Zenger's subsequent trial- and acquittal-on charges of libel has been termed "the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized America." In October of 1734, New York governor William Cosby ordered his chief justice to charge the Journal with libel; twice however, the grand jury refused to return indictments, citing a lack of evidence regarding the identity of the author of the libels. The governor then ordered the hangman to burn the offending papers in the presence of the mayor and magistrates. Unable to prosecute the likely author of the libels, his opponent James Alexander, Cosby had a bench order issued for Zenger's arrest, and on 17 November 1734 the printer was imprisoned for " printing and publishing several seditious libels." Zenger's friends employed Andrew Hamilton, the original " Philadelphia lawyer," to defend him. As the case revolved around freedom of the press in America, all the central colonies regarded the controversy as their own. At trial Hamilton justified Zenger's publication by asserting its truth. " You cannot be permitted," the chief justice interrupted, " to give the truth of libel in evidence." "Then," Hamilton aid to the jury, "we appeal to you for witnesses of the facts. the jury have a right to determine both the law and the fact, and they ought to do so. The question before you is not the cause of a poor printer, not of New York alone; it is the cause of liberty, the liberty of opposing arbitrary power by speaking and writing truth." On 4 August 1735, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict and Zenger, released from his 35-week imprisonment, was received with tumultuous applause. After his death, Zenger's widow and son John conducted the Journal until 1752.See More

People: Zenger, John Peter, 1697-1746
Cosby, William, fl. 1690-1736
George II, King of Great Britain, 1683-1760
Caroline, Queen, consort of George II, King of Great Britain, 1683-1737
Chachi, Tomo, fl. 1730-1734

Historical Era: Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1763

Subjects: American Indian HistoryGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsMilitary HistoryGovernment and CivicsJournalism

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