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"the part of the refpondent, that the papers brought "here by Jacob Frederic Englebrecht, master of the "faid fhip Amelia, prove her and her cargo to be Ham"burgh property, and alfo confidering that as the nation. "to which the owners of the faid fhip and cargo belong, " is in amity with the French republic, the said ship and cargo could not, confiftently with the laws of nations, "be condemned by the French as a lawful prize, and that "therefore no fervice was rendered by the United States "fhip of war the Constitution, or by the commander, "officers or crew thereof, by the re-capture aforefaid.
"Whereupon it is ordered, adjudged and decreed by "the court, and it is hereby ordered, adjudged and de"creed by the authority of the fame, that the former "part of the decree of the district court, by which a "moiety of the proceeds is allowed to the commander, "officers and crew aforefaid, be and the fame is hereby "reversed.
"And the court further confidering all the circum"ftances of the prefent cafe arifing from the capture and 66 re-capture stated in the libel and claim and answer, and "that by the fale of the faid fhip Amelia and her cargo, "made with the express confent of the appellant, the cofts "and charges in this cause have nearly all accrued, and "that therefore the expenfes fhould be defrayed out of "the proceeds, Thereupon, it is hereby further ordered, "adjudged and decreed by the court, that fo much of "the faid decree of the said district court as relates to the 66 payment, by the clerk, to the feveral officers of the
court, and to the proctors of the libellant and claimant "in this caufe, of their taxed cofts and charges, out of "the other moiety of the faid proceeds, and alfo of the "refidue of the faid last mentioned moiety, after deduct"ing the cofts and charges aforefaid, to the owner or "owners of the faid fhip Amelia and her cargo, or to "their legal representatives, be and the fame is hereby
To reverse this decree the libellant fued out a writ of error to the fupreme court, and by consent of parties, the following statement of facts was annexed to the record which came up.
"The ship Amelia failed from Calcutta in Bengal, in "the month of April, 1799, loaded with a cargo of the "product and manufactory of that country, confifting "of cotton, fugars, and dry goods in bales, and was "bound to Hamburgh.
"On the 6th of September in the fame year, fhe was "captured, while in the pursuit of her faid voyage, by "the French national corvette La Diligente, L.J. Dubois "commander, who took out her captain and part of her "crew, together with most of her papers, and placed a "prize mafter and French failors on board of her, order❝ing the prize master to conduct her to St. Domingo, to "be judged according to the laws of war.
"On the 15th of the fame month of September, the "United States ship of war the Conftitution, command"ed by Silas Talbot, efquire, the libellant, fell in with " and re-captured the Amelia, the being then in full pof"feffion of the French, and pursuing her course for St. "Domingo according to the orders received from the captain of the French corvette.
"At the time of the re-capture, the Amelia had eight " iron cannon mounted, and eight wooden guns, with "which the left Calcutta, as before stated.
"From fuch of the fhips papers as were found on "board, and the teftimony in the cause, the ship Amelia "and her cargo appear to have been the property of "Chapeau Rouge, a citizen of Hamburgh, refiding and carrying on commerce in that place.
"It is conceded that the republic of France and "the city of Hamburgh are not in a state of hoftility to "each other; and that Hamburgh is to be confidered " as neutral between the present belligerent powers.
"The Amelia and her cargo, having been sent by "captain Talbot to New-York, were there libelled in "the district court, and fuch proceedings were thereupon "had in that court, and the circuit court for that dif ❝trict, as may appear by the writ of error and res
The cause now came on to be argued at Auguft term, 1801, by Bayard and Ingerfol for the libellant, and Dallas, Mafon, and Levy for the claimant.
For the libellant three points were made.
1. That at the time, and under the circumftances, the fhip Amelia was liable to capture by the law, and inftructions, to feize French armed veffels, for the purpofe of being brought into port, and fubmitted to legal adjudication in the courts of the United States.
2. That Captain Talbot, by this capture, faved the ship Amelia from condemnation in a French court of admiralty.
3. That for this fervice, upon abftracted principles of equity and justice, according to the law of nations, and the acts of congress, the re-captors are entitled to a compensation for salvage.
1. Had captain Talbot a right to feize the Amelia, and bring her into port for adjudication?
The acts of congrefs on this fubject ought all to be confidered together and in one view. This is the general rule of conftruction where feveral acts are made in pari materiâ. Plowden, 206. 1 Atk. 457, 458.
The first act authorizing captures of French veffels, is that of 28th May, 1798, Laws of United States, vol. 4, p. 120. The preamble recites that "whereas armed vef"fels failing under authority, or pretence of authority, from the "republic of France, have committed depredations on the "commerce of the United States," &c. therefore, it is enacted that the prefident be authorized to inftruct and direct the commanders of the armed veffels of the United States "to feize, take and bring into any port of the "United States, to be proceeded against according to the "laws of nations, any fuch armed veffel, which fhall have "committed, or which fhall be found hovering on the coafts of the United States, for the purpose of com"mitting depredations on the veffels belonging to citi"zens thereof; and also to re-take any ship or vessel of
any citizen or citizens of the United States, which "may have been captured by any fuch armed veffel."
The Amelia was "an armed veffel failing under autho"rity from the republic of France," and if the had committed, or had been found hovering on the coaft for the purpose of committing depredations on the veffels of the citizens of the United States, fhe would have been clearly liable to capture under this act of congrefs. This act is entitled "An act more effectually to protect the commerce "and coafts of the United States ;" and by it the objects of capture are limited to "armed veffels failing under "authority, or pretence of authority, from the republic "of France, which fhall have committed, or which shall "be found hovering on the coafts of the United States, "for the purpose of committing depredations," &c. It was foon perceived that a right of capture, fo limited, would not afford what the act contemplated, an effectual protection to the commerce of the United States. Congrefs, therefore, on the 9th July, 1798, at the fame fefLion, paffed the "act further to protect the commerce of "the United States," (Laws United States, vol. 4. p. 163.) and thereby took off the restriction of the former act, which limited captures to veffels having actually committed depredation, or which were hovering on the coaft for that purpose. This act authorizes the capture of any "armed French veffel on the high feas," and if the Amelia was fuch an armed French veffel as is contemplated by this act, fhe was liable to capture, and it was the duty of captain Talbot to take her and bring her into port. Another act was paffed at the fame feflion, on the 25th June, 1798, (Laws United States, vol. 4. p. 148.) entitled "An act to authorize the defence of the "merchant veffels of the United States against French "depredations," which, as it conftitutes a part of that fyftem of defence and oppofition which the legislature had in view, ought to be taken into confideration. It enacts that merchant veffels of citizens of the United States may oppofe and defend against any search, restraint or feizure which shall be attempted " by the commander " or crew of any armed vessel sailing under French colours, or acting, or pretending to act, by, or under the authority "of the French republic," and in cafe of attack may repel the fame, and subdue and capture the veffel. The court
in conftruing any one of thefe laws will not confine themselves to the ftrict letter of that particular law, but will confider the fpirit of the times, and the object and intention of the legislature. It is evident by the title of the act of July 9th, 1798, and by the general complexion of all the acts of that feffion upon the fubject, that it was not the intention of congress, by the act of July 9th, to restrict the cafes of capture contemplated by the act of 28th May, but to enlarge them. The fpirit of the people was roufed; they demanded a more vigorous and a more effectual oppofition to the aggreffions of France, and the fpirit of congrefs rofe with that of the people. It cannot be fuppofed that having in May used the expreffion," armed veffels failing under authority, or "pretence of authority, from the republic of France," and in June the expreffion, "any armed veffel failing "under French colours, or acting, or pretending to act, "by, or under the authority of the French republic," they meant to reftrict the cafes of capture, in July, when they used the words " any armed French veffel." On the contrary, the confidence in the national opinion was increased, and further measures of defence were adopted, intending not to recede from any thing done before, but to amplify the oppofition. The act of July was in addition to, not in derogation from, the act of May. Congrefs evidently meant the fame defcription of veffels, in each of thofe acts. "Armed vessels failing under autho"rity, or pretence of authority, of France," and "arm"ed veffels failing under French colours, or acting, or "pretending to act under authority of the French repub"lic," and "armed French veffels," must be understood to be the fame.
If there is a difference no reafon can be given for it. A veffel, in the circumftances of the Amelia, was as capable of annoying our commerce as if she had been owned by Frenchmen. Her force was at the command of France, and there can be no doubt but she would have captured any unarmed American that might have fallen in her way. She was, therefore, one of the objects of that hoftility which congress had authorized. Congrefs have the power of declaring war. They may declare a general war, or a partial war. So it may be a general maritime war, or a partial maritime war.