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Wynehamer v. the People

The Temperance Movement, Prohibition And Property


James Wynehamer


People of the State of New York

Appellant's Claim

That the law prohibiting the sale of alcohol under which Wynehamer was indicted was unconstitutional, because it abridged his constitutional right to dispose of his own property as he saw fit.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

A. J. Parker

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

A. Sawin

Justices for the Court

Chief Justice Denio, Justices Comstock (writing for the court), Hubbard, Johnson, Johnson, Mitchell, Selden, Wright

Justices Dissenting



Albany, New York

Date of Decision

March 1856


That the prohibitionary law violated the portion of the state constitution declaring that no citizen be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.


The case struck down an early prohibition statute with higher-law doctrine, and set the stage for national prohibition to be proposed as a constitutional amendment.


West's Encyclopedia of American Law. St. Paul, MN: West Group, 1998.

Further Readings

  • Cushman, Robert F. Leading Constitutional Decisions. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1982.
  • Johnson, John W., ed. Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1992.
  • Wiecek, William M. "Prohibition and the Due Process Clause." John W. Johnson, ed. Historic U.S. Court Cases: an Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1992.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882