Zenger Trial

Here is a reading on the Zenger Trial along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. This is a relatively short reading as selections from the Intellectual Devotional series go, but the worksheet conforms to this blog’s standard: eight vocabulary words to define, eight comprehension questions, and three “additional facts” questions.

This piece of litigation from colonial-era America was barely on my radar screen until it popped up as a question on the United States history College Level Examination (CLEP) test. To summarize even beyond the limits of this short reading, John Peter Zenger published a newspaper in New York City, The New York Weekly Journal. Zenger used his paper to criticize the colonial governor of New York, William Cosby. Cosby accused Zenger of libel and sedition and in November of  However, a grand jury refused to indict Zenger (which, if memory serves, indicated Cosby’s popularity). In 1735, Zenger was acquitted of the charges against him. His case, in American history, is often cited as the birth of the principle of free press in the United States.

In other words, in many respects, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution has its roots in the Zenger Affair.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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