78 U.S. 652 (1871), Henderson's Tobacco, In Re

Citation:78 U.S. 652, 20 L.Ed. 235
Case Date:May 01, 1871
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 652

78 U.S. 652 (1871)

20 L.Ed. 235


United States Supreme Court.

May 01, 1871


        In error to the Circuit Court for the District of Iowa.

        This was an information under the act of July 20, 1868, 1 entitled 'An act imposing taxes on distilled spirits and tobacco, and for other purposes,' to enforce a forfeiture, under the revenue laws, of certain caddies of tobacco which had been seized on the 17th of August, 1869, and which were claimed by Henderson & Co. The information contained three counts.  The first was, in substance, that since the first day of January, 1868, to wit, from January 1, 1868, to August 17, 1869, the claimants, being the owners of a tobacco factory, with its furniture, manufactured, prepared, and placed in caddies, manufactured leaf tobacco, and sold and removed the same without placing on the caddies the proper revenue stamps, and without having paid the special tax required by law; but that they did place on the caddies of tobacco so manufactured and so sold and removed, half stamps, that is to say, revenue stamps cut in two parts, each part of said stamps being used on separate caddies, and each half stamp so covered by a whole stamp as to make the half stamp so used resemble and be taken for a whole stamp.  The second count was for substantially the same offence.  The third was for making false and fraudulent entries of the amount of tobacco sold by them annually, and false and fraudulent entries of the quantity manufactured by them, and false and fraudulent reports of their annual sales, in violation of their duty under the law.

        The claimants pleaded to this information that it was not filed until more than twenty days after the caddies had been seized by the collector for the alleged violations of law.  To the plea there was a demurrer, which was overruled by the

Page 654

court and the information was dismissed.  The record was, therefore, supposed to present the question whether proceedings to enforce a forfeiture for such violations of the revenue laws as were charged in the information must be commenced within twenty days from the time of the collector's seizure, and this was the only point argued.  The claimants, in support of an affirmative answer to this question, relied upon the proviso to the 25th section of the act of Congress of March 2, 1867, 2 entitled 'An act to amend existing laws relating to internal revenue, and for other purposes.'  This 25th section enacted that the owner, agent, or superintendent of any still, boiler, or other vessel used in the distillation of spirits, who should neglect or refuse to make true and exact entry and report of the same, or to do, or cause to be done, any of the things by law required to be done concerning distilled spirits, shall, in addition to other fines and penalties by law provided, forfeit for every such neglect or refusal all the spirits made by or for him, and all the vessels used in making the same, and the stills, boilers, and other vessels used in making the same, and all materials fit for use in distillation found on the premises.  It also authorized the collector to seize such spirits, vessels, and materials, and hold them until a decision thereon according to law.  Then followed this proviso:

        'Provided, that proceedings to enforce said forfeiture shall be commenced by such collector within twenty days after the seizure...

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