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The Ship Ann Maria.
full knowledge of the non-intercourse act, that it would be unlawful to call on his way to a foreign port, at a port of his own country, to know whether the law were still in force, or for the purpose of getting provisions. Nor can it be supposed that any one would be so fool hardy, if he did know that such conduct was illegal, as to come into the waters of the United States in the public and open manner in which this ship came. But the true question here is, not whether these goods were illegally imported into the United States, but whether they were taken on board with such illicit intention. If the question of fact has been properly disposed of, then whatever in ordinary cases might amount to an importation, if it shall satisfactorily appear that the vessel came without an intention of landing the goods contrary to law, but merely for the purpose of inquiry, and having an ulterior destination in view, it is not perceived how she has committed the offence for which she is prosecuted. Her merely passing through our waters, if it be manifest that no design was harboured of landing her cargo, is an innocent act, and not prohibited by any law. It was the importation into the United States, and the consumption there of English goods, which it was the policy of the law to guard against; and therefore any vessel might take on board such goods, provided at the time no such intention existed ; especially if her subsequent conduct did not show that every thing which had been done abroad was merely colourable. If then her conduct while in our waters consisted with the intention declared by her papers, and such is the opinion of the Court, what right has the Court to say that the ultimate destination of the voyage was not Cadiz? Or how can it be said that she came into the waters of the United States with an intent to import these goods, contrary to the true intent and meaning of the act of Congress, when by the evidence it appears that no such intention existed, but that her coming here was altogether for other purposes,
The Ship Ann Maria.
and among others for the purpose of leaving our waters im. mediately, if the act were still in force, and proceeding to a foreign port? The original intention then, which is fully established, as it is supposed to be here, must control what might otherwise be the conclusion of law on such an arrival. If that were innocent, no forfeiture attaches to the vessel.
Under these views of the subject, this Court is of opinion that the District Court erred in condemning the property. Its sentence must therefore be reversed, and a decree entered that the ship Ann Maria, her tackle, &c. be restored to the claimant.
D. DAGGETT and W. BRISTOL for the appellant.
CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES,
CONNECTICUT, APRIL TERM, 1814, AT NEW-HAVEN.
Hon. BROCKHOLST LIVINGSTON, Associate Justico of the Swo
THE UNITED STATES v. WILLIAMS ET AL.
An act laying duties on goods imported, “ from and after the passage of the
act,” takes effect the beginning of the day on which it is passed, and not
from the time of its being signed by the President. But, in case of a prosecution for a forfeiture ? Quere.
LIVINGSTON, J. The declaration is in debt on a bond dated the 1st of July, 1812, which the defendants executed to the United States of America, in the penal sum of four thousand four hundred dollars--the condition of which was, that the same should be void, if they or either of them, on or before the first day of October, then next, paid to the Collector of the Customs, for the District of New-London, for the time being, two thousand two hundred dollars, or the amount of the duties to be ascertained as due, and arising on certain goods entered by them, as imported in the brig Lydia, from St. Bartholomews, as per entry, dated the 1st July, 1812.
The defendants pleaded, that at eight o'clock in the forenoon of the said 1st day of July, 1812, the brig Lydia arrived at a wharf in New-London, and that at the same time, she and
United States r. Williams et al.
her cargo were duly entered at the custom-house there; that the single duties on her cargo amounted to two thousand three hundred and six dollars ninety-two cents, for the security of one-half whereof, amounting to one thousand one hundred and fifty-three dollars forty-six cents, the said bond was given pursuant to law; and on the same day the defendants executed their bond for the payment of the other half of said duties in six months—That the law imposing an additional duty of one hundred per cent. was passed at Washington, and received the President's approbation on the said 1st day of July, 1812.
As to the said sum of one thousand one hundred and fiftythree dollars and forty-six cents, they plead a tender and refusal on the day when it became payable—and pray judgment, whether the United States ought to have judgment, &c.
The United States demur, and the defendants join in demurrer.
On these pleadings judgment was rendered by the District Court in favour of the defendants, and from this judgment an appeal has been prosecuted to this Court.
Whatever other points may be presented by the pleadings in the cause, one only having been argued and brought to the consideration of the Court, that alone will be disposed of, without, however, precluding the defendants from urging any other matter in support of the judgment of the District Court, provided it be done during the present term.
On the part of the defendants, it has been contended, that the act imposing an additional duty of one hundred per cent. did not go into operation until the 2d day of July, 1812– that if this interpretation be not adopted, the Court will have to decide either that it was in force the whole of the first day of July, although, probably, it was not signed until some late hour of that day, and most likely after the entry of the Lydia's cargo at New-London-or that it will have to ascertain at what particular hour of the day it received the President's
United States v. Williams et al.
sanction, to prevent its operating retrospectively in this case, if the entry in question were precedent in point of time. These difficulties, it is supposed, can be avoided only by rejecting the first day of the month altogether, and by giving the act a commencement only from the day following:
To give this law the construction which is set up by the defendants, is asking of the Court to exercise a discretion in a case where the words of the law are imperative and admit of no doubt whatever. The additional duties are to take place from and after the passing of the act—that is, from and after the Ist day of July, 1812. In other words,-if any other words can render the intention of the legislature more evident, -all goods imported on or after that day, are to pay double duties. From the impracticability of deciding at what particular moment of time the President gives his seal to a bill, we have never heard of such inquiry being made, and the least which Courts have ever said on such occasions, is, that where an act is to take place from the day of its passing, as is the case here, it must embrace the whole of that day. Here, emphatically, no fractions of a day should be allowed; otherwise the commencement of a law, would in such cases, not be matter of record and uniform, but depend on evidence as to the time of signature, and would vary in different Courts; according to the testimony which might be offered, as to that fact.
The suggestions of hardship and retrospection which have been so much pressed, would apply with equal force to every vessel which arrived on the second, third, or fourth of July, as on the morning of the first day of that month; for in none of those cases, would a master arriving from abroad, know of the law-and even where arrivals were much later, the merchant would have the same reason to complain of the ex post facto operation of the law, as the profits of his adventure would have been, no doubt, calculated on the basis of his