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William S. Smith and Samuel G. Ogden Trials: 1806

Miranda Dines At The White House, Rebel Vessel Sails From New York, President's Role At Issue

Defendants: William S. Smith, Samuel G. Ogden
Crime Charged: Violating the Neutrality Act of 1794
Chief Defense Lawyers: Thomas A. Emmet, Cadwallader D. Colden, Josiah Ogden Hoffman, Washington Morton, and Richard Harison (Note: the transcript of the trial, as reproduced by Thomas Lloyd who was the stenographer at the trial, states that the last attorney's surname was Harison, with one "R")
Chief Prosecutors: Nathan Sanford, Pierpont Edwards
Judges: William Paterson, Matthias B. Talmadge
Place: New York, New York
Date of Trial: July 14-26, 1806
Verdict: Not guilty

SIGNIFICANCE: The 1806 prosecution of William Smith and Samuel Ogden for their role in helping Francisco de Miranda fight Spanish rule in Latin America was a nearly forgotten trial that involved mercenaries, a potential war, allegations of government persecution, and a president's decision not to allow federal officials to testify in court.

Between 1783 and 1805, Francisco de Miranda traveled across Europe and the United States to win support for independence for his native Venezuela and the other Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere. During this time, he met virtually every major American leader. Most politely ignored Miranda, but many supported his cause; some because they wanted to help free the colonists from Spanish tyranny, others because of the profit they could gain from such an adventure.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832