Folks, the most concrete source of the Insanity Defense, that exists, is the result of a 19th century English trial.
On January 20, 1843 Daniel McNaughten in his attempt to assassinate British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, mortally wounded Peel’s private secretary Edmund Drummond. Alexander Cockburn, McNaughten’s defense lawyer portrayed his client as being one of those unfortunates who suffered the “most appalling of all calamities–the deprivation of that reason, which is man’s only light and guide in the intricate and slippery paths of life.”
McNaughten was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the rest of his life in Bethlehem Hospital, a criminal institution. Queen Victoria, questioned the rationale of the not guilty verdict. She reacted to the verdict with: “What do you mean, not guilty? I saw him do it.
Queen Victoria, who had been a target of an assassination attempt by a man named Oxford, wrote Sir Robert Peel: “We have seen the trials of Oxford and McNaughten conducted by the ablest lawyers of the day–and they allow and advise the jury to pronounce the verdict of Not Guilty on account of insanity, when everybody is morally convinced that both malefactors were perfectly conscious and aware of what they did.”
The outcome of these trials–Not Guity by reason of Insanity–gave birth to what is now called–“The Defense of Last Resort.
Folks, I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit R. Jerry Martin for reminding me of Wilmington’s air ace, Major George S. Welch.
Major Welch was born George Lewis Schwartz in 1918. in Wilmington. His parents being aware of the strong anti-German sentiment generated during WW I, changed his name to George S. Welch. Those who were not aware of the name change speculated that he was a scion of the Welch’s Grapefruit family.
George Welch attended Friends School and St. Andrew’s School in Middletown in 1936. He acquired his wings in 1940.
On that fateful day, December 7, 1941, he was stationed in Hawaii. Lt. Welch shot down four of the Japanese attackers. Wilmington’s Lt. Welch was America’s first WW II air ace.
When a debilitating case of Malaria ended his tour of duty in the Pacific, Major Welch had flown 348 combat missions and shot down I6 enemy aircrafts. His shooting skill caused Major Bong, the top Air Ace. to remark, that had I had his shooting skill I would have shot down more than the 40 I’m credited with.
George Welch was killed on Oct. 12, 1954 while he was on a test flight of the F-100 jet airplane. His jet winged over and began a rapid descent and then it disintegrated. At the time of his death he was chief engineering test pilot for North America Aviation.
A scholium: Major Dick Bong was America’s Ace of Aces. He was born in 1920. He had a confirmed shoot down of 40 Japanese planes. Ironically, Major Bong was also killed while testing a jet aircraft on August 6, 1945–the day when the A Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.