John Peter Zenger

By James Wells, Jose Castillo, and Adrian De La Garza (4th)


Family History -

He came to America in his early teens from Germany with his family in the year 1710. His father died during the voyage to America. He worked for several years as an agreed servant for printer William Bradford - the owner of the newspaper "The Gazette" before opening his own printing shop in 1726. While he worked for William Bradford, he got married, but she soon after passed away. He married again in 1722.

Political Affiliations/Loyalties-

John Peter Zenger worked with William Bradford who was an American printer, so he learned his way around the printing press and the government politics that went around New York. After just working with him,they developed a partner ship together which enabled him to get higher up in the printing press company. Finally in 1726 he developed his own printing press. Soon after William Cosby got elected as new governor in New York, Cosby took control of Bradford's paper press and made him write a lot of things about the government which most of it wasn't true. John Peter Zenger stayed loyal to his honesty in his Printing press, New-York Weekly and was honest with the city about the freedom of speech that they deserved and spoke out against the flaws of the government. Although he first worked in the Gazette, he never really sided with the government of the British and their policies, so he sided with the rebellion and wanted freedom of speech.

Contribution to Colonial Independence

Because Zenger decided to provide his own opinions about the governor and his government, William Coby; the new governor found that his publishes were "divers scandalous, virulent, false and seditious reflections." He was outraged of the things Zenger was writing in his paper that he removed Chief Justice Lewis Morris and replaced him with James DeLancey of the royal party. After he was able to do that, he got Zenger arrested and proclaimed for him to remove his newspaper or to not write things about the government that weren't approved from by Cosby. In November 1734 Zenger ended up going to jail for 8 months while he was assigned a court date. After he went to court, only 10 minutes passes before the jury stated him not guilty. This action by John Peter Zenger angered many colonials because of the unjustness of the British government to throw someone into jail because they didn't like what Zenger wrote in his paper. It supported the lead to the American revolution and his case was agreat support towards the freedom of speech amendment in the Declaration of Independence.


Integrity is the honesty, rightfulness and truthfulness of ones actions.

John Peter Zenger was always forthcoming of his opinions. He was a man who would stand out and speak his mind when in disagreement with something. With that said, John felt as if the colonial governor William Cosby was being dishonest and not making the right decisions, so he decided to start publishing in his newspaper to speak his mind and his disagreements about Cosby. Soon after, he gained a lot of popularity because there were many people that agreed with him. The newspaper got more recognition and Zenger and his followers began what some might say, an early version of freedom of speech. Cosby was not happy about this rebellious actions and issued a proclamation condemning the newspaper "divers scandalous, virulent, false and seditious reflections." On November 17th, 1734 Zenger was arrested, but 8 months later during his trial his verdict came out as not guilty.

Zengers actions were definitely honest, truthful and most of all right. Cosby was going around printing press companies telling them what content to put in them and Zenger did the right thing to stand up to him and protest in a way for freedom of speech. Zenger was a man with integrity and chose to do the honest and right thing to do.


Citizenship is the quality of the individuals response to membership in a community or town.

Zenger was the man who printed the New York Weekly Journal for the community to know his opinion and to persuade them to agree with his opinion about colonial governor William Cosby. He was also involved enough to hear what the people were thinking and saying about his jornal entries. Zenger then became the defendant in a landmark legal case in American jurisprudence known as "The Zenger Trial" because of his controversial journal entries.

Zenger listened to others opinions in the community and then printed them out for the rest of the community to read and for them to decide where they stand regarding the colonial government, proving to be a man with citizenship.