On Monday, December 19, at 4:00pm, Mayor Richard Thomas and the City of Mount Vernon will hold a celebration commemorating the 225th anniversary of the final ratification of the Bill of Rights. Mayor Thomas will be joined by County Executive Rob Astorino, representatives from the offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other dignitaries.
The City of Mount Vernon is the birthplace of the Bill of Rights and home of the sister to the Liberty Bell. In 1733, St Paul’s Church in Mount Vernon was a polling site during a controversial, tumultuous election where some voters were prevented from voting. John Peter Zenger, publisher of the New York Weekly Journal, covered the irregularities of corrupt officials involved with the election tampering. Zenger was arrested and his newspaper was ordered burned. His subsequent defense of his actions – that they were true – laid the groundwork for the Bill for Rights. Zenger’s non-guilty verdict in his libel trial and his brave embrace of the truth led to the foundation of the First Amendment – Freedom of Speech.
“Mount Vernon is a city of firsts. We are the birthplace of the Bill of Rights, one of the nation’s first roads at Route 22, and the creators of hip-hop. Mount Vernon has always been a place where people stood up for what is right from John Peter Zenger in 1733 to Denzel Washington today. We look to our Rebecca Turner who broke free from slavery to become one of the first African-American property owners in the country; Nina Simone whose potent protest music was banned by radio stations fearful of confronting discrimination. Humphrey Bogart who joined the Committee for the First Amendment to protest the unconstitutional House Un-American Activities Committee. Mount Vernon has always taken the lead in standing up for what is fair, what is right, and what is just. As Mayor, I will continue to stand firm and stand up for Mount Vernon,” said Mayor Richard Thomas.