Zenger was arrested for printing statements in the New York Weekly Journal that were critical of colonial Governor William Cosby’s arbitrary rule. However, the defense lawyer argued he was not guilty of libel because everything he wrote about was true. Zenger was still proven guilty because he admitted that he was the one who printed the statements.
The New York Weekly Journal were ordered to burn the the arbitrary rule that Zenger had created. While the city gathered for the burning of the paper, it was an order that the mayor and the magistrates do not attend. They burned the papers of the journals aforesaid.
The name of the man that was accused of making these papers was John Peter Zenger. His punishment for writing these papers was that he was arrested and charged with seditious libel. The documents printed were critical of colonial Governor William Crosby's arbitrary rule.
Life Without the First Amendment
Hamilton disagrees with the punishment and he brings in witnesses to prove that the statements in Zenger's paper are true. Hamilton explained that if the paper is true, then it should not be a crime. Hamilton argues that Zenger should not be found guilty because what he says was true and therefore it would not be considered libal.
Based on the statements that Hamilton have the juries, they have decided that Zenger is not guilty. Hamilton said to the juries, "It may in its consequence affect every free man who lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty." Because of this statement given by Hamilton, Zenger was freed and claimed as not guilty.
Without the Amendment, more people would be accused of libel and those who did, would be less likely to win. The freedom of the press is important in a free society because it allows the people to be able to have opinions. If we did not have this, many people would be accused of libel and thrown into jail, like Zenger.