In May 1793 a captured British ship was brought into the port of Philadelphia by the French privateer "Citizen Genet" and one of its seamen, who'd commanded the brigantine "Griffin" in the American Revolution, was arrested for violating the U.S.'s "Neutrality Proclamation" that sought to keep the young nation out of the conflict between France and Great Britain. It became a cause célèbre, with U.S. Attorney General Edmund Randolph personally taking part in the prosecution. It was an important test case, with Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton weighing in. It was the first time an American citizen was prosecuted for aiding the French, and Jefferson assured French Minister Genet that Henfield would be tried "by a jury of his countrymen in the presence of Judges of learning and integrity." On July 17, 1793 a grand jury indictment was obtained and in the trial soon after Henfield was found not guilty on all counts. Item #43732
Unsigned Document, 1p, 7 3/4" X 7", n.p. [Philadelphia, Pa], 27 July 1793. Very good. This exceptional document, legibly penned in brown ink in an unknown hand -- clearly contemporary notes made on that day, quite possibly by one of the jurors. A bit fragmentary, with challenging abbreviations. After citing date, "Circt. Ct. U.S." and "Ingl. [Jared Ingersoll] fro deft. [defendant]," a more legible central portion notes "4. o'clock Sergeant" -- likely a closing summation by one of Henfield's defense attorney Joseph Dickinson Sergeant, the other two being Ingersoll and Peter S. Duponceau, as prosecuting attorney William Rawle had made his closing argument the day before. Here it notes, in part: "Treaty with Morocco is the only treaty applicable.... Treaty with France does not extend to this point nor any other treaty -- consequently if it had been intended it wd. have been expressed in the other treaties.... Hume's hist.[ory of] Engld. foreign soldiers crowding into England.... Hutchinson's hist. of Massachusetts bay.... make a law & proclaim in -- it will be right." Interestingly, in lower left corner the unknown writer pens a few interesting detailed doodles of unidentified objects, though one is clearly a hand reaching out for a couple of cups (one pictures this tired juror near the end of a grand jury looking forward to a spot o' ale at a local tavern). On the document's verso, he pens "Jury" and below lists twelve male names -- information we find recorded nowhere in the various accounts of this trial. This fascinating if somewhat cryptic document represents contemporary, on-the-spot reporting of one of the most important and controversial trials of the day -- one that established long-time maritime principles. Newly discovered, this fascinating document has never been studied by maritime historians and certainly warrants further research.