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Historical Glossary

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Zenger trial

In 1732 N.Y. Governor William Cosby claimed that part of his own salary was wrongly appropriated by his predecessor, Acting Governor Rip Van Dam. Cosby appointed a special chancery court, which rendered verdicts without a jury, in which he sued Van Dam; he also dismissed Van Dam's supporters from political office and threatened their land titles. Cosby's enemies hired John Peter Zenger to edit the New York Weekly Journal, which began publication on 5 November 1733 and denounced Cosby as a danger to civil liberties and property rights. Cosby prosecuted Zenger for seditious libel, but Zenger was acquitted on 4 August 1735. The case blocked further abuse of seditious libel prosecutions in N.Y., but was not interpreted as a major precedent for freedom of the press until after 1820.

Zimmermann note

On 19 January 1917, Alfred Zimmermann, German foreign secretary, sent his ambassador in Mexico a coded message promising an alliance between the two nations if the US declared war on Germany. In that event, Germany would help finance a Mexican effort to reconquer territories lost by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. British intelligence decoded the telegram and gave the US a copy on 24 February. When revealed to the press on 1 March, it inflamed US public opinion against Germany in World War I.

Zuni Indians

This group of Pueblo Indians occupied the Zuni River valley in western N.Mex. and first met Spaniards in 1540. They did not take part in Popé's Revolt and avoided war with both Spaniards and Anglo-Americans, although they suffered from raids by Apache Indians. They probably numbered 2,500 in 1680. The US recognized their homeland in McKinley and Valencia counties, N.Mex., as a reservation, which contained 8,135 Zunis in 1984.