John Peter Zenger and the Fundamental Freedom

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About the Book

In 1733, John Paul Zenger began to print the New York Journal, the newspaper that was to change Zenger’s life and the direction of journalism in colonial America. The material published in the Journal so incensed Sir William Cosby, the royal governor, that Zenger was arrested for seditious libel. Zenger’s case was taken on by Andrew Hamilton, the foremost lawyer in the colonies, and after several months in prison the printer was found innocent. The case became a landmark of journalistic freedom, establishing that truth was the ultimate defense against charges of slander or libel, and was both emblem and incitement of America’s belief in a free press. This work traces Zenger’s life, the development of what was to become the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment freedom in the colonies, and its subsequent evolution on both sides of the Atlantic.

About the Author(s)

William Lowell Putnam served as vice chairman of the Association of Maximum Service Telecasters, among his multitude of other professional credits. He is the sole trustee of the Lowell Observatory and lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Bibliographic Details

William Lowell Putnam
Format: softcover (5.5 x 8.5)
Pages: 205
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, 1 table, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [1997]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9363-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Foreword by Paul Sweitzer 1
Preface 4

I. Young Peter—Zenger’s Background and Environment 9
II. Reinventing Journalism—Zenger’s Writers and the First News Events 19
III. The Evolution of Free Speech—Free Speech from Socrates to 1734 31
IV. The Evolution of Related Freedoms—Thought and Religion 41
V. Colonial Newspapers—The Early Print Media of America 50
VI. Setting the Stage—Events Leading Up to the Trial of August 1735 57
VII. Trial Preliminaries 68
VIII. Jury Selection and Opening Arguments 82
IX. Pleading the Negative 93
X. Pleading the Truth 104
XI. Acquittal 111
XII. The Fallout—Establishment of Truth as a Defense 118
XIII. Subsequent Events—Zenger’s Subsequent Example 128
XIV. Frank Herbert Simonds (1878–1936)—A Visionary Journalist in the Zenger Mold 134
XV. Final Fruition—Evolution of American Freedom of the Press 142

Afterword 149
Appendices
A. American Bill of Rights 151
B. English Bill of Rights 154
C. Declaration of Independence 161
D. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 166
Notes 169
Bibliography 185
Index 189

Book Reviews & Awards

“for students and scholars”—Reference & Research Book News.