In the courtrooms of New York City’s Federal Hall, more than fifty years before the Bill of Rights was ratified, a groundbreaking case laid the foundation for one of our most important inalienable rights. Join Untapped New York’s expert tour guide Mandy Edgecombe to relive the history-changing trial of newspaper printer John Peter Zenger which paved the way for America’s freedom of the press. In 1735, Zenger was charged with seditious libel for printing content in his newspaper, The New York Weekly Journal, which was critical of the British colonial government. In this virtual talk, you will trace Zenger’s story from his journey to New York as a German refugee, his apprenticeship in New York’s first printing press, and ultimately to the stand of the New York Supreme Court.
In this talk:
- Learn about NYC’s very first newspapers and the rivalry between them
- Hear tales of quarantine on Governors Island
- Explore the rebellious sentiment of colonial New York
- Relive the groundbreaking libel trial of newspaper printer John Peter Zenger
- Discover how Zenger’s trial laid the groundwork for America’s freedom of the press
Hamilton defending Zenger at trial, Courtesy of the Library of Congress
New York City’s first printing press, was established on Pearl Street in 1693. It was there, in the shop of New York City’s official Crown-appointed printer William Bradford, that a young John Peter Zenger was first introduced to the printing trade. After arriving in New York as a German refugee, Zenger was indentured to Bradford for several years. Bradford published New York City’s first newspaper, The New-York Gazette, in 1725. The Gazette was controlled by the British government. Zenger gave voice to the opposition in his own newspaper, The New York Weekly Journal. When the newspaper accused the government of rigging elections, colonial Governor William Cosby did anything in his power to destroy it, including jailing Zenger for seditious libel. Though freedom of the press would not become law until the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, Zenger’s trial helped lay the groundwork of America’s free press.
Tickets to this live virtual talk on Tuesday, February 2nd are just $10. You can also gain access to unlimited virtual events per month and unlock a video archive of past events as an Untapped New York Insider starting at $10/month.
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