Fascinating New York Event: John Peter Zenger Trial, 1735

Once upon a time, a very powerful but thin-skinned New York politician took offense at newspaper reports critical of the corruption and bullying conduct surrounding his office and so he ordered the editor of the paper to be jailed, charged him with libel, and publicly burned the offending papers. Contemporary political fiction? Premise of the latest Netflix mini-series? Nope – an actual historical event that sowed the seed that would eventually flower into the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press.

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