November 17th in New York City History - Freedom of the Press! It started with Peter Zenger. Birthdays: Scorsese, Strasberg, and Seaver born. Many birthdays, several in 1944.
Posted: Nov 16, 2012 | 11:34 PM
Freedom of the Press!
1734... Peter Zenger arrested for publishing scathing opinion pieces about the new colonial Governor of New York, William Cosby leading to a case establishing freedom of the press in the American Colonies.
Zenger was imprisoned in New York City Hall, also the capitol of the colony.
[ Tangentially, this is the building that was to become the first capitol of the United States in 1789 after a make over, Federal Hall, the first Federal Style Building. In 1810, this building would house the New York Historical Society, which brought Santa Claus to the world.
It was New York City Hall before and after its capitol era (until it was demolished around 1812 for around $400 worth of scrap). ]
Back to Zenger. He was imprisoned for a long time. Inside Federal Hall there is a model of the building, and I can point out his window. There is also a replica of his printing press.
In 1735, Governor Cosby selected the judges, but not the jury. He also disbarred all the local lawyers. Benjamin Franklin sent a brilliant lawyer from Philadelphia to successfully defend Zenger.
The jury ruled not on Zenger's guilt, but on the law, which was unprecedented, and found Zenger innocent because the published criticisms were based on facts, so they were not libelous. This re-affirmed the relative freedom of the press that existed since the Dutch days of old Nieuw Amsterdam, later enshrined in that same building in 1789 in the Bill of Rights.
I love Federal Hall. There it is behind Zenger's papers getting burned.
Here's the trial depicted on the inside:
1877... Columbia's Football Captain, after losing to Princeton states: "If you must lose, it's a pleasure to lose to gentlemen and I am well satisfied. But in the future, we'll field a better side and the outcome will not always be as it was today." This has been a Columbia sentiment for much of the Lion's history.
1901... Lee Strasberg, the director and pioneer of "method acting", was born.
1904... Isamu Noguchi, the great sculptor born. He worked in Queens' Long Island City and in Greenwich Village on MacDougal Alley.
1942... Martin Scorsese born in Queens. Beloved New York Film Director of Gangs of New York and The Age of Innocence and NYU Film School Grad still going strong.
1944... Mets Baseball great Tom Seaver born in Fresno, CA. Nicknamed "The Franchise," Seaver was the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year. He won the Cy Young Award in 1969 (World Series winning year), 1973 (Pennant winning year), and 1975.
Also 1944... Danny DeVito, actor, director, producer born in NJ.
Also 1944... Lorne Michaels, creator and producer of "Saturday Night Live" among other things, including 30 Rock, born in Israel, raised in Canada.
1961... Governor Nelson Rockefeller announces divorcing his wife, Mary, dooming his Presidential ambitions. He died in the saddle with his Secretary while he was married to his next wife.
1968... NBC cuts coverage of the Jets-Raiders game with just over a minute left in the game with the score 32-29. They cut to the regularly scheduled show for children "Heidi." It turns out that the fans missed a lot. The Raiders scored twice, changing the score 43-32. Fans were upset, and television sports changed.
1985... The Jets Football Team beats Tampa Bay 62-28, the Jets' record for points scored.
1998... Esther Rolle, Broadway and TV actress "Good Times" died. She did not like JJ Walker exclaiming "Dyn-o-mite!" every episode, since she felt the show should be tackling tough issues, not clowning around.