John Peter Zenger Facts

John Peter Zenger Facts
John Peter Zenger was a German-American journalist and newspaper publisher who became famous for going to trial for libel charges after printing pieces that opposed the governor. He was born on October 26th, 1697 in Impflingen, Germany to Johanna and Nicholaus Eberhard, a schoolteacher. In 1710 John's family immigrated to New York, but his father died before settlement, and John subsequently apprenticed with William Bradford as a printer. John Peter Zenger went on to start his own newspaper which resulted in charges and a trial for opposing the governor of New York. His trial marked an important event in the history of the freedom of the press.
Interesting John Peter Zenger Facts:
John Peter Zenger apprenticed with William Bradford for eight years beginning in 1711, learning the printing trade. He was 14 years old when he began.
William Bradford was considered to be one of America's printing pioneers.
In 1719 John Peter Zenger married Mary White. The marriage was brief however as Mary died young.
When John's apprenticeship ended he relocated to Chestertown, Md., but he did not find the success in his field as he had hoped and moved back to New York in 1722.
In 1722 John Peter White remarried to his second wife Anna Catharina Maul, in New York. Together they had a total of six children during their marriage.
John Peter Zenger worked with William Bradford for a while once back in New York, but in 1726 decided to start his own printing business.
William Bradford's newspaper was the New York Gazette. New York's new governor in 1732, William Cosby, used the Gazette to further his own political agenda and fortune.
John Peter Zenger started publishing his own newspaper the New York Weekly Journal in 1733, and was backed by many prominent people that opposed William Cosby.
In 1734 New York's Governor William Cosby had John Peter Zenger charged with criminal libel, but Zenger was acquitted by a grand jury.
In 1735 the attorney general Richard Bradley charged John Peter Zenger with libel. He spent almost 10 months in jail awaiting trial.
John Peter Zenger's lawyers in the second trial were William Smith Sr., and Andrew Hamilton. The original lawyers Zenger hired to defend him were disbarred by the very government that Zenger had published the so-called 'libelous' articles about.
William Smith Sr. and Andrew Hamilton took the position that truth itself was a defense against libel. They won and Zenger was again set free.
Even while in prison awaiting trial John's wife Anna continued to publish his newspaper.
John Peter Zenger died on July 28th, 1746 in New York. It is believed that he was buried in Lower Manhattan's Trinity Churchyard.
Anna Zenger continued to publish the newspaper after her husband's death. In 1748 John and Anna's oldest son, also named John, took over the print shop, and published the Journal for three more years.
Despite the success of John Peter Zenger's case, the freedom of the press continued to be suppressed by the government until the end of that century.

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