67 U.S. 635 (1863), The Amy Warwick

Citation:67 U.S. 635, 17 L.Ed. 459
Case Date:March 10, 1863
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 635

67 U.S. 635 (1863)

17 L.Ed. 459





United States Supreme Court.

March 10, 1863


These were cases in which the vessels named, together with their cargoes, were severally captured and brought in as prizes by public ships of the United States. The libels were filed by

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the proper District Attorneys, on behalf of the United States and on behalf of the officers and crews of the ships, by which the captures were respectively made. In each case the District Court pronounced a decree of condemnation, from which the claimants took an appeal.

The Amy Warwick was a merchant vessel, and belonged to Richmond. Her registered owners were David and William Currie, Abraham Warwick and George W. Allen, who resided at that place. Previous to her capture she had made a voyage from New York to Richmond, and thence to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the last named port she shipped a cargo of coffee, 5,100 bags, to be delivered at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Richmond, according to the orders which the master would receive at Hampton Roads. She was on her voyage from Rio to Hampton Roads and off Cape Henry when she was captured (July 10th, 1861) by the Quaker City. At the time of the capture the barque was sailing under American colors, and her commander was ignorant of the war. The Quaker City carried her into Boston, where she was libelled as enemy's property. The claimants of the vessel were the persons already named as owners. James Dunlap, Robert Edmonds, John L. Phipps, and Charles Brown claimed the cargo. The claimants in their several answers denied any hostility on their part to the Government or Laws of the United States, averred that the master was ignorant of any blockade, embargo or other interdiction of commerce with the ports of Virginia, and asserted generally that the capture was unlawful.

The Crenshaw was captured by the United States Steamer Star, at the mouth of James River, on the 17th of May, 1861. She was bound for Liverpool with a cargo of tobacco from Richmond, and was owned by David and William Currie, who admitted the existence of an insurrection in Virginia against the Laws and Government of the United States, but averred that they were innocent of it. The claimants of the cargo made similar answers, and all the claimants asserted that they had no such notice of the blockade as rendered the vessel or cargo liable to seizure for leaving the port of Richmond at the time

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when the voyage was commenced. She was condemned as prize on the ground that she had broken, or was attempting to break, the blockade at the time of her capture.

The Hiawatha was a British barque, and was on her voyage from Richmond to Liverpool with a cargo of tobacco. She left Richmond on the 17th of May, 1861, and was captured in Hampton Roads on the 20th by the Minnesota, and taken to New York. Her owners were Miller, Massman & Co., of Liverpool, who denied her liability to capture and condemnation on the ground that no sufficient notice had been given of the blockade. The claimants of the cargo put their right to restoration upon a similar basis.

The Brilliante was a Mexican schooner, owned by Rafael Preciat and Julian Gual, residents of Campeche. She had on board a cargo of flour, part of which was owned by the owners of the vessel, and part by the Se)ores Ybana & Donde, who were also Mexican citizens. She had a regular clearance at Campeche for New Orleans, and had made the voyage between those ports. At New Orleans she took in her cargo of flour, part to be delivered at Sisal and part at Campeche, and took a clearance for both those places. On her homeward voyage she anchored in Biloxi Bay, intending to communicate with some vessel of the blockading fleet and get a permit to go to sea, and while so at anchor she was taken by two boats sent off from the Massachusetts. She was carried into Key West, where the legal proceedings against her were prosecuted in the District Court of the United States for the District of Florida.

The minuter circumstances of each case, and the points of fact, as well as law, on which all the cases turned, in this Court and in the Court below, are set forth with such precision in the opinions of both Mr. Justice Grier and Mr. Justice Nelson, that more than the brief narrative above given does not seem to be necessary.


The case of the Amy Warwick was argued by Mr. Dana, of Massachusetts, for Libellants, and by Mr. Bangs, of Massachusetts, for Claimants.

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The Crenshaw, by Mr. Eames, of Washington City, for Libellants, and byMessrs. Lord, Edwards, and Donohue, of New York, for Claimants.

The Hiawatha, by Mr. Evarts and Mr. Sedgwick, of New York, for Libellants, and by Mr. Edwards, of New York, for Claimants.

The Brilliante, by Mr. Eames, of Washington City, for Libellants, and by Mr. Carlisle, of Washington City, for Claimants.

One argument on each side is all that can be given. Those of Mr. Dana and Mr. Carlisle have been selected, not for any reason which implies that the Reporter has presumed to pronounce judgment upon their merits as compared with those of the other distinguished counsel, but because they came to his hands in a form which relieved him of the labor which the others would have cost to re-write and condense them.

Mr. Carlisle. The Brilliante is a regularly registered Mexican ship. Her principal owner, although a Mexican citizen by birth, had been naturalized in the United States. He was, before and at the time of the seizure, the United States Consul at the port of Campeche, a port on the coast of Mexico. The vessel was seized by the United States ship Massachusetts, in Biloxi Bay, north of Ship Island, between Pas Crétien and Pascagoula Bay, on the 23d of June, 1861.

She had sailed from New Orleans, with a cargo of six hundred barrels of flour, put on board there about the 16th of that month, four hundred barrels for the house of the claimant, (American Consul at Campeche,) and the residue for the Mexican house of Ybana & Donde, at Sisal, also a port on the coast of Mexico; to which houses it was respectively consigned, they being owners of the same, in these proportions.

I. There was no actual breach. The question is of intent.

At the time of the seizure, the Brilliante was lying at anchor in Biloxi Bay, and had so lain at anchor twenty-four hours or more. 'She came out from New Orleans and anchored in

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Biloxi Bay, so as to be able to communicate with one of the blockading vessels, but did not see any vessel of war. On the next day, on which the vessel was seized, the sea was too rough to go on board the Massachusetts, which was lying in sight.'

Mr. Preciat, the claimant, 'wished to go on board one of the blockading vessels, to see if he could get a permit to go out to sea; otherwise he intended to have returned with the vessel to New Orleans.' (Deposition of the said Preciat, taken in preparatorio, Record, p. 11.) He was returning to Campeche, 'to attend to the duties of his office (U. S. Consul,) and business generally.' On going to New Orleans, he had a letter from the Commander of the Brooklyn, one of the blockading squadron, to the Commander of the Niagara, another of them, forwarding him to Mobile, where his son was at school, and whom he desired to take home. The passengers and crew mutinied, and refused to go to Mobile. The mate, taking control, steered for New Orleans, where the vessel arrived and the crew were discharged. These facts appear from the declarations in preparatorio. The libel and decree are exclusively founded on the alleged attempt to leave New Orleans. The claimant had a right to except that his application to return, although sailing from New Orleans, would have been granted; or, if not granted, that he would have been allowed the option of going back to New Orleans; which he declares, on his examination, was his intention, if not permitted to return to Campeche. He swears that he had no intention to violate the blockade. There is nothing to contradict him, but everything corroborates his declaration. He was at anchor twenty-four hours, and a considerable portion of that time in sight of one of the blockading vessels, which the evidence shows he could not safely attempt to reach in consequence of the state of the weather. Before that period there is nothing to show that he might not have run the blockade safely; nor is there any reason suggested or supposable why he cast anchor, except that he had no intent to violate the blockade. His public character as United States Consul, and the facts before referred to, go in confirmation of this.

But chiefly, the terms of the President's proclamation instituting

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this so-called blockade, are important to be considered upon this question of intent. The condition of things was unprecedented. From the nature and structure of our peculiar system of government, it could have had no precedent. The co-existence of Federal and State sovereignties, and the double allegiance of the people of the States, which no statesman or lawyer has doubted till now, and which this Court has repeatedly recognized as lying at the foundation of some of its most important decisions; the delegation of special and limited powers to the Federal Government, with the express reservation of all other powers 'to the States and the people thereof' who created the Union and established the Constitution; the powers proposed to be granted and which were refused, and the general course of the debates on the constitution; all concurred in presenting this to the President as a case of the first impression. Assuming the power to close the ports...

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