Zenger, John Peter

John Peter Zenger was a printer in the American colonies in the 1730s who was involved in one of the most famous media trials in American history. Zenger’s trial centered on whether newspapers could publish materials critical of the government without punishment. For Americans, this trial was one of the first events in the process of debating the issue of what constituted a free press, which would eventually lead to the adoption of the First Amendment. This entry discusses Zenger’s background and the funding of his newspaper before looking at the trial and its impact.

Zenger’s Background

Zenger had immigrated to the colonies from Europe at the age of 13 in 1710. His father had died on board the ship while crossing the Atlantic. At age 14, ...

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