The Trial of John Peter Zenger
1735

 

Mr. Hamilton

"That in New York a Man may make very free with his God, but he must take special Care what he says of his Governour.

"Jurymen are to see with their own Eyes, to hear with their own ears, and to make use of their own Consciences and Understandings, in judging of the Lives, Liberties or Estates of their fellow Subjects.

"How must a Man speak or write, or what must he hear, read, or sing? Or when must he laugh, so as to be secure from being taken up as a Libeller?

"Power may justly be compared to a great River, while kept within its due Bounds, is both Beautiful and Useful; but when it overflows it's Banks, it is then too impetuous to be stemm'd, it bears down all before it, and brings Destruction and Desolation wherever it comes. If then this is the Nature of Power, let us at least do our Duty, and like wise Men (who value Freedom) use our utmost care to support Liberty, the only Bulwark against lawless Power. "

-A Brief Narrative of the Cafe and Tryal of John Peter Zenger, by James Alexander (New York, 1736) [Reprinted in John Peter Zenger by Livingston Rutherford (New York, 1941)]

Back to Zenger Trial main page