2 U.S. 321 (1795)

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U.S. Supreme Court

U S v. GUINET, 2 U.S. 321 (1795)

2 U.S. 321 (Dall.)

The United States v. Guinet, et al.

Circuit Court, Pennsylvania District April Term, 1795

This was an indictment against Etienne Guinet and John Baptist Le Maitre, for a misdemeanor in fitting out and arming Les Jumeaux (The Twins) in the port of Philadelphia, to be employed in the service of the Republic of France, against Great Britain, both powers being at peace with the United States. The act on which the indictment was founded, contained the following sections: Sec. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall, within any of the ports, harbours, bays, rivers, or other waters of the United States, fit out and arm, or attempt to fit out and arm, or procure to be fitted out and armed, or shall knowingly be concerned in the furnishing, fitting out or arming of any ship or vessel, with intent that such ship or vessel shall be employed in the service of any Foreign Prince or State, to cruise or commit hostilities upon the subjects, citizens or property of another Foreign Prince or State, with whom the United States are at peace, or shall issue or deliver a commission within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, for any ship or vessel, to the intent that she may be employed as aforesaid, every such person, so offending, shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined and imprisoned, at the discretion of the Court in which the conviction shall be had, so as the fine to be imposed shall in no case be more than five thousand dollars, and the term of imprisonment shall not exceed three years; and every such ship or vessel, with her tackle, apparel, and furniture, together with all materials, arms, ammunitions, and stores, which may have been procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited, one half to the use of any person who shall give information of the offence, and the other half to the use of the United States. Sec. 4. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall, within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, encrease or augment, or procure to be encreased or augmented, or shall be knowingly concerned in encreasing or augmenting the force of any ship of war, cruiser, or other armed vessel, which, at the time of her arrival within the United States, was a ship of war, cruiser or armed vessel in the service of a Foreign Prince or State, or belonging to the subjects or citizens of such Prince or State, the same being at war with another Foreign Prince or State with whom the United States are at peace by adding to the number or size of guns of such vessel

Page 2 U.S. 321, 322

prepared for use, or by the addition thereto of any equipment solely applicable to war, every such person so offending shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be fined and imprisoned at the discretion of the Court, in which the conviction shall be had, so as that such fine shall not exceed one thousand dollars, nor the term of imprisonment be more than one year.

The indictment was brought upon the 3rd section. Guinet only was apprehended; and, being arraigned, he pleaded not guilty.

The material facts that appeared in evidence, upon trial, were these: Les Jumeaux entered at the port of Philadelphia, in the month of , laden with sugar and coffee, from Port-au-Prince; and on her arrival she mounted four guns and two swivels. The vessel, it seemed, had originally been a British cutter, employed in the trade to the coast of Guinea; and had ten port-holes on each side, though only four were actually open, at the time of her arrival, to accommodate the four guns, then mounted. Soon after, a Frenchman applied to a ship-carpenter to repair the vessel, which was in a very rotten state; and, after some difficulty, a bargain for that purpose was struck; but the carpenter declared he would only open the number of ports (twenty) which were pierced when she came into port; and in all other respects fit her for a merchant-ship. At the time of repairing her, she was owned in shares by Le Maitre, the original owner, and seven other Frenchmen. The twenty ports being opened, and the other repairs of the vessel proceeding rapidly, the Government instituted an enquiry into the subject, in order to ascertain the nature and design of her equipments. On examination, the master Warden found the vessel in great forwardness, her twenty ports open, her upper deck changed, &c. and four iron guns on carriages, with two swivels, were lying on the adjoining wharf. He, therefore, desired the carpenter to desist from working any further on the vessel, and made a report on the subject, to the Secretary at War; who directed, that all the recent equipments of a warlike nature should be dismantled, and the vessel restored to the state in which she was when she arrived. The master Warden, accordingly, caused the port-holes to be shut up, and even refused to allow any ringbolts to be fixed in the vessel. A few days before she left the port a witness said he saw four guns in her hatch-way; the carpenter who repaired her said she carried with her from the wharf, the four guns and two swivels that she had brought in; and, according to the Custom-House Entry, she sailed from the city in ballast, having nothing in her hold but provisions, water-casks, and wood for the ship's use. It had been said, at one time, that she was to carry flour; at another time that [2 U.S. 321, 323]

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