Veigh v. United States

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSWAYNE
Citation11 Wall. 259,20 L.Ed. 80,78 U.S. 259
Decision Date01 December 1870
PartiesMcVEIGH v. UNITED STATES

78 U.S. 259
20 L.Ed. 80
11 Wall. 259
McVEIGH
v.
UNITED STATES.
December Term, 1870

ERROR to the Circuit Court for the District of Virginia.

On the 17th of July, 1862, Congress passed an act, entitled 'An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes.' This act provided for the seizure and confiscation of the property of persons holding certain offices or agencies under 'the Confederate States,' and of persons engaged in the rebellion then existing, or aiding or abetting such rebellion, who should not cease to aid, countenance, and abet such rebellion within sixty days after public warning

Page 260

and proclamation by the President, and return to their allegiance to the United States. The act contains numerous sections. They are set forth with fulness in a case which was decided soon after this one, and which is reported next to it, Miller v. United States, the leading case on the Confiscation Acts, and in which, rather than in this one where the main subjects were hardly reached, the provisions of the statute are inserted. To understand the present case, it is indispensable that the reader be possessed of the nature of that statute, and of its provisions. He will, therefore, have the goodness to turn forward to page 269, and to read from the words, beginning with an *, 'The Act of July 17th, 1862, contains fourteen sections,' on that page, to the words on page 273, beginning with a , 'In order to carry out these acts;' after which he will resume his reading here.

With this statute in force the United States filed a libel of information in the District Court for the District of Virginia, for the forfeiture of certain real and personal property of one William McVeigh, situated in Virginia. The information was in form against 'all the right, title, and estate of William McVeigh in and to all that certain piece, parcel, or lot of land,' &c., describing it particularly.

The libel alleged that subsequent to July 17th, 1862, the said McVeigh held and exercised an office and agency of honor, and trust, and profit, under the government of the Confederate States, and under one of the States of said confederacy; and that he accepted the appointment, and was elected to the office and agency after the date of the ordinance of secession of said State; and that he took an oath of allegiance to and to support the constitution of the Confederate States; and that since July, 1862, he had assisted and given aid and comfort to the rebellion, and to those engaged in the rebellion, by acting on the 18th of July, 1862, and at various times subsequently as a soldier, and as an officer, and as a non-commissioned officer in the army and navy of the Confederate States; and by contributing money and property to the aid and encouragement of those engaged in the rebellion. The libel was afterwards amended so as ¢-

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to charge, in addition to the above offences, that McVeigh, on the 18th of July, 1862, was engaged in armed rebellion against the government of the United States, and notwithstanding the President, on the 25th of July, 1862, issued his proclamation warning all persons thus engaged to cease participating in aiding, countenancing, and abetting such rebellion, the said McVeigh did not within sixty days thereafter cease to aid, countenance, and abet such rebellion, and return to his allegiance to the United States.

McVeigh appeared by counsel, made a claim to the property, and filed an answer. This answer was not contained in the record, and nothing of its contents appeared except what was stated in the order of the court made on the motion of the attorney of the United States.

The attorney of the United States, however, moved that the claim, answer, and appearance be stricken from the files, as it appeared from the answer filed, that at the time of filing it the party was 'a resident of the city of Richmond, within the Confederate lines, and a rebel.' The court granted the motion. Subsequently the default of all persons was taken, and a decree was rendered for the condemnation and sale of the property. The case was carried to the Circuit Court, and there the decree was affirmed. It was now brought here on writ of error.

Messrs. B. R. Curtis, Brent, Wattles, Moore, Hughes, Denver, and Peck, appeared for the plaintiff in error. Mr. Curtis argued the case orally, the other counsel filing briefs.

Mr. Curtis: The claim and answer of McVeigh and the appearance of his counsel having been stricken out, of course nothing remained for him but to be defaulted, because he was not allowed to appear; and the question is, whether that was erroneous or not.

Now the act of Congress does not inflict forfeiture upon a person because he was a resident within the enemy's lines, nor because he was a rebel at the time when this answer was filed, even if it be assumed that the District Court interpreted 'rebel' to mean a person giving aid and comfort to

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the rebellion, of which interpretation this court has no evidence. The provision of the 5th section, which relates to persons owning property in any loyal State or Territory, or in the District, applies to those who, at any time after the passage of the act, should give aid and comfort to the enemy; but it does not apply to those who owned property within the State of Virginia, which was not one of the loyal States, but one of the Confederate. The 6th section, which provides for persons who own property and commit the described offences within the Confederate States, is limited. 'If the person, &c., in any other than the loyal States shall not, &c., cease to aid, countenance, and abet such rebellion, and return' to his allegiance, his property is to be forfeited. But only then. This is a penal statute, not to be extended by implication.

Thus it did not appear by the answer of McVeigh that he was within the terms of the act. He was not within the terms as a resident within the rebel lines, nor by reason of being a rebel (whatever the District Court may, under the circumstances of the case, have construed that to be) when he filed his answer, because the 6th section does not apply to him. And it did not appear by his...

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81 practice notes
  • United States v. Veon, No. CR. S-81-172A-LKK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • April 29, 1982
    ...20 L.Ed. 161 (1871); Miller v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall) 268, 20 L.Ed. 135 (1871); McVeigh v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall) 259, 20 L.Ed. 80 (1871). Since no such claim can be made for the CCE statutes, the Confiscation Act cases can hardly be viewed as providing guidance in the i......
  • United States v. Batato, No. 15–1360
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2016
    ...however, we decline to express an opinion on the matter.4 The claimants also rely on McVeigh v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 259, 20 L.Ed. 80 (1870), but that case is simply inapposite. It involved the government's seizure of property from a former Confederate officer whose claim and a......
  • The B. & O. Railroad Co. v. The P. W. & Ky.Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 7, 1881
    ...Const. Art. Ill, §10; 35 N. Y. 306; 20 Gratt. 108; 72 Pa. 82; 16 Minn. 376; Law Rep. 2 C. P. 401; 4 Mass. 627; 23 Gratt. 418; 3 Otto 274;.11 Wall. 259; 6 Wall. 239; 14 How. 340; 9 How. 350; 4 Conn. 384; Broom Max. (6th Am. ed.) 88 et seg. Mills Em. Dom. § 94; Wade Notice §1127; Pierce Am. R......
  • Agard v. Portuondo, No. 336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • July 3, 1997
    ...principles of the social compact and of the right administration of justice," McVeigh v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 259, 267, 20 L.Ed. 80 (1870), "a principle of natural justice, recognized as such by the common intelligence and conscience of all nations," Windsor v. McVeigh, 93 U.S.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
81 cases
  • United States v. Veon, No. CR. S-81-172A-LKK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • April 29, 1982
    ...20 L.Ed. 161 (1871); Miller v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall) 268, 20 L.Ed. 135 (1871); McVeigh v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall) 259, 20 L.Ed. 80 (1871). Since no such claim can be made for the CCE statutes, the Confiscation Act cases can hardly be viewed as providing guidance in the i......
  • United States v. Batato, No. 15–1360
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2016
    ...however, we decline to express an opinion on the matter.4 The claimants also rely on McVeigh v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 259, 20 L.Ed. 80 (1870), but that case is simply inapposite. It involved the government's seizure of property from a former Confederate officer whose claim and a......
  • The B. & O. Railroad Co. v. The P. W. & Ky.Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 7, 1881
    ...Const. Art. Ill, §10; 35 N. Y. 306; 20 Gratt. 108; 72 Pa. 82; 16 Minn. 376; Law Rep. 2 C. P. 401; 4 Mass. 627; 23 Gratt. 418; 3 Otto 274;.11 Wall. 259; 6 Wall. 239; 14 How. 340; 9 How. 350; 4 Conn. 384; Broom Max. (6th Am. ed.) 88 et seg. Mills Em. Dom. § 94; Wade Notice §1127; Pierce Am. R......
  • Agard v. Portuondo, No. 336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • July 3, 1997
    ...principles of the social compact and of the right administration of justice," McVeigh v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 259, 267, 20 L.Ed. 80 (1870), "a principle of natural justice, recognized as such by the common intelligence and conscience of all nations," Windsor v. McVeigh, 93 U.S.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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