They put it in print… Zenger’s newspaper ordered to be burned…

July 20, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

Blog-5-25-2015-John-Peter-ZengerA sure-fire way to get yourself in trouble–at least in early 18th century America–would be to criticize the governor. John Peter Zenger, publisher of “The New York Weekly Journal“, had a problem with a decision made by of the colonial governor, William Cosby, and expressed his frustration in his newspaper. On November 17, 1734, On Cosby’s orders, the sheriff arrested Zenger. After a grand jury refused to indict him, the attorney general Richard Bradley charged him with libel in August of 1735. Thus began his imprisonment and a trial that would lead to Zenger’s acquittal and would more importantly create the foundation for the freedom of the press we enjoy today.

The “Encyclopedia of Censorship” reports that: “…In October 1734 a committee was appointed to investigate Zenger’s newspaper and to look into the charges of seditious libel that had been alleged against it. The committee found numbers 7, 47, 48, and 49, which contained a reprinted article on the liberty of the press, to be libelous as charged and ordered them to be burned. Zenger was arrested and jailed.”

See the link below which shows the entirely of issue number 47, dated Sept. 23, 1734. You can read the continued article which got Zenger thrown into jail, but ultimately won not only his own freedom but a significant freedom for newspaper publishers everywhere:

The New-York Weekly Journal, September 23, 1734