Trial of Gideon Henfield
United States Circuit Court for the Pennsylvania District, 1793
Reprinted in Wharton, State Trials 49 (1849)
In 1793, President George Washington ordered that the United States be neutral in the Napoleonic Wars going on in Europe. Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality stated that the United States government would take legal action against any American taking any part in assisting the countries at war. Gideon Henfield (defendant) was charged with seizing a French ship in violation of President Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality. Because there was no American statute prohibiting Henfield’s alleged conduct, the court instructed the jury on other areas of law.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Jay, J.)
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