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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing), Zenger, John Peter 1680-1746 (search)
tly employed to defend Zenger. To the astonishment of the court, he appeared, on the day of trial, as the champion of the freedom of the press. By keen legal weapons, he foiled the sophistry of the court, and obtained from the jury a verdict of acquittal for Zenger, on the ground that an alleged libel is justified by its truth, and that jurors are judges of both law and fact. The crowded courtroom was instantly resonant with applause, and the delighted people carried the venerable advocate out of the city hall on their shoulders. The corporation of the city of New York presented Mr. Hamilton with the freedom of the city in a gold box for his learned and generous defence of the rights of mankind and the liberty of the press. He charged no fee for his services. Gouverneur Morris said to Dr. John W. Francis: The trial of Zenger, in 1735, was the germ of American freedom—the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized America. Zenger died in New York City in 174
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