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The New-York Weekly Journal (Zenger), February 18, 1733

The New-York Weekly Journal (Zenger's paper)

The New-York Weekly Journal (Zenger's paper)

New York State Library, NYSL_NYWeeklyJournal_17330218
 
Document Description
The New-York Weekly Journal (Zenger), February 18, 1733.
 
Transcription
The New-York Weekly Journal
Monday February 18, 1733
 
Mr. Zenger, I beg you will give the following Sentiments of CATO, a Place in your weekly Journal, and you’ll oblige one of your Subscribers.
 
          Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom, and no such Thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech, which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it he does not hurt or controul the Right of another.  And this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know.
          This sacred Priviledge is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together, and in those wretched Countries where a Man cannot call his Tongue his own he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation must begin by subduing the Freedom of Speech, a Thing terrible to publick Traytors.
          This secret was so well knonn, to the court of King Charles the First, that his wicked Ministry procured a Proclamation to forbid the People to talk of Parliaments, which those Traytors had laid aside. 
          To assert the undoubted Right of the Subject, and defend his Majesty’s legal Prerogative, was called Disaffection, and punished as Sedition. 
          That Men ought to speak well of their Governours, is true, while their Governours deserve to be well Spoken of, but to do publick Mischief without Hearing of it is only the Prerogative and Felicity of Tyranny a free People will be showing that the are so, but their Freedom of Speech.
          The Administration of Government is nothing else but the Attendance of the Trustees of the People upon the Interest and Affairs of the People.  And it is the Part and Business of the People, for whole Sake alone all publick Matters are or ought to be transacted, so it is the Interest, and ought to be the Ambition of all honest Magistrates, to have their Deeds openly examined and publickly scanned.
          Freedom of Speech is ever the Symptom as well as the Effect of good Government.  In old Rome all was left to the Judgement and Pleasure of the People, who examined the public Proceedings with such Discretion, and censured those who administered them with such Equity and Mildness, that in the Space of three Hundred Years, not five public Ministers suffered unjustly.  Indeed whenever the Commons proceeded to Violence, the great ones had been Aggressors.
          Guilt only dreads Liberty of Speech, which drags it out of its Lurking Holes and exposes its Deformity and horror to the Day light, the best Princes have ever incouraged and promoted freedom of Speech they know that upright Measures would defend themselves and all upright Men would defend them. Tacitus speaking of the Reign of good Princes says with extasy “A blessed Time, when you might think what you would, and Speak what you Thought.”
 
 
 
Questions
According to the author, what are some of the many reasons that we need the freedoms of thought and speech? 
 
According to the author, how has King Charles tried to limit freedom of speech?
 
According to the author, what is the purpose of government?
 
How does the author set up his argument?  In other words, how is the sequence of ideas within the document important to the overall argument?
 
 
Historical Challenges
Read and analyze the Declaration of Independence.  How do the ideas exhibited in this document compare to those presented in the Declaration?  How does the sequence of the argument presented by the author of this document compare to the sequence of ideas presented in the Declaration of Independence?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write an editorial in support of the author of this document.
 
Art: Create a comic strip that presents the reasons for freedom of speech presented in the document.
 
 
 

Historical Context
The social and political seeds of revolution can be found as far back as 1734, with the trial of John Peter Zenger. Zenger was a German immigrant and the editor of a New York newspaper, The New-York Weekly Journal. The paper frequently printed articles critical of the British government. In November of 1734, Zenger was arrested and accused of libel for unjustly attacking the reputation of the royal governor of New York. His trial began in July of 1735. In Zenger’s time, publishing any information that was in opposition to the government was considered libel. But Zenger’s lawyer, Alexander Hamilton, argued that it couldn’t be libel if it was true. Zenger won the trial, winning an important victory for freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the colonies. This freedom was increasingly important as the colonies moved toward independence.
 
 
Essential Question
What were some of the ways that colonists expressed their opinions about and debated social and political issues in the years leading up to the Revolution?
 
Check for Understanding
After completing the Written Document Analysis graphic organizer, students should answer the following question with evidence from the document.
 
What is the main argument of this document, and what evidence does the author provide to support his argument?