Wednesday 1/16/13. Day Planner: Cornell Notes, DocsTeach Bell Work: What was the Proclamation of 1763? And how do you think this would cause people to revolt?. Freedom of the Press. The Trial of John Peter Zenger 1735.
Wednesday 1/16/13 Day Planner: Cornell Notes, DocsTeach Bell Work: What was the Proclamation of 1763? And how do you think this would cause people to revolt?
Freedom of the Press
The Trial of John Peter Zenger 1735
John Peter Zenger- Printer - Worked for the New York Weekly Journal
Seditious Libel Zenger printed articles that criticized New York Governor Crosby for rigging elections and helping the French Governor Crosby had Zenger arrested for “seditious libel” Arrested November 17, 1734 –unable to make bail Trial begins July 29, 1735 sedition Resistance to legal authority In Zinger’s time this meant publishing negative information about the government libel
Arguments Prosecution: Zenger “wickedly and maliciously” printed articles against the governor and his ministers Challenge to British royal law Zenger’s Defense: Andrew Hamilton argued directly to the jury - that truth must determine if what was written about the governor was or was not libelous
Zenger's lawyer - Andrew Hamilton - agrues: The law is wrong – not what Zenger printed: “It is not the cause of one poor printer… but the cause of liberty!” Andrew Hamilton
The question is… Should the government have the power to silence criticism that may likely “harm” that government? Should citizens be allowed to freely express their thinking in all circumstances?
The judge informs the jury that the law does not permit “what Zenger printed is the truth” as a defense.
What do you think happened? The judge ordered the jury to convict Zenger if they believed he printed the criticism. Ten minutes later the jury returned…
Truth Wins! Zenger is acquitted As the American Revolution develops, this trial decision becomes vital to the Patriots It is a first step toward Freedom of the Press Bill of Rights 1786 “Our liberty depends upon the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson
First Amendment - 1791 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the fee exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Thank you John Peter Zenger!