Peter Zenger Critical Essays

Tom Galt


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Zenger’s fight for a free press, one that can be critical of the government without fear of retribution, is an important event in American history. The results of the Zenger trial have implications that are as applicable in modern society as they were in 1735. Freedom of the press is one of the United States’ founding principles, and it allowed the American Revolution to take place. Galt firmly believes in the cause of Zenger and stresses that this is a freedom that should not and cannot be taken for granted. The book argues that the fight for a free press was a hard one, won only through the hard work and labor of people such as Zenger. One of the book’s main values is that it easily explains this important issue.

Galt’s sympathies are with Zenger and those people who believed that the press should be free and that the people should have the right to know what their leaders and government are doing. Characters can be placed into one of two categories—heroes or villains. Zenger and his lawyers and backers are the heroes of the book and the fight for a free press, while Cosby, Bradford, and others are clearly the villains. The side of the hero is adequately explored, but the motivations of Cosby, Bradford, and the others remain a mystery, although Bradford is shown in a slightly more sympathetic light than some of the other figures. Galt obviously respects and applauds the stand taken by Zenger and his colleagues and despises the actions of Cosby and his conspirators.

The book gives much coverage to the trial and to the...

(The entire section is 636 words.)