Today in History–November 27–the Library of Congress features the trial of newspaper man, John Peter Zenger. The trial judge, James Delancey, was born on this day in 1703. In the 1730s Zenger published articles in the New York Weekly Journal exposing the political machinations of Governor William Cosby who, in turn, charged Zenger with seditious libel. Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, successfully argued to the jury in 1735 that because the articles contained verifiable facts, they could not be libelous. Learn more about this landmark case that set the precedent for freedom of the press in America by visiting the Today in History section and clicking the links below.
Andrew Hamilton Defending John Peter Zenger in Court (illustration)
Crown v. John Peter Zenger online exhibition
The Trial of John Peter Zenger primary source set (Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York)