Imágenes de páginas

appear, and the ship was subjected to condemnation, their absence would not prevent the ship being condemned. And, on the contrary, if they failed to appear, the prosecution would probably be benefited by that failure. The Court could, undoubtedly, and would stop the proceedings at any stage of them, to admit the other owners, should they choose to appear. But they could not be compelled to appear. Application for alteration of the pleadings could be made at any time. Mr. Cary represents the vessel in a way recognized by the law as a proper and accurate pleading.

The Court denied the motion, reserving the question, however, for further consideration on the authorities, and directed that the case proceed the next day on its merits.

The District Attorney then moved that all proved owners of the vessel be declared in default except the Messrs. Forbes.

The Court admitted the motion to consideration, but expressed the opinion that there was “nothing in it,” and that it should not make the order.

The District Attorney then moved to strike out the claim.
The Court overruled the motion, and noted libellants' exception.

MR. WEBSTER. We move that, under rule 93 of this Court, the answer of the claimants be struck out, because not verified by the respondents in person.

The Court would consider the motion, taking the time of an adjournment for that purpose.

Mr. Evarts desired to explain that when the notice of the claimants was given, he applied to the District Attorney to know whether he desired that it should be thus verified, and was informed by the latter that he supposed he did, and would let him know if he did. His client was then in Court, ready to make the verification.

The Assistant District Attorney (Mr. Courtney) admitted that the verification had been waived.

The Court considered a waiver implied, without reference to the docket.

The Court then adjourned to 11 o'clock on Wednesday.



United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

March 2erande 30, April 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,9,12, 21. }


Hon. D. S. DICKINSON, U. S. Dist. Attorney,
SAMUEL G. COURTNEY, Esq., Asst. do.

appeared for the United States.

WILLIAM M. EvArts, Esq.,

JOSEPH H. CROATE, Esq." } appeared for the claimants


At the opening of the Court, District Attorney Dickinson stated that, in consequence of the refusal of the attorneys for the claimants to make admission of the existence of certain facts material in the case, the government would be compelled to ask an adjournment of the case until Friday morning, in order that a messenger might be sent to the State Department to procure the needed testimony.

The admission required, on the part of the District Attorney, was, that a state of war existed between Spain and Chile; that the United States were at peace with Spain ; that Stephen Rogers had been Consul for the Republic of Chile, in the port of New York, and B. Vicuna Mackenna, the confidential agent in this country of the said government.

The counsel for the claimants refused to admit the facts stated, because they were a part of the corpus delicti, and the government was bound to make out its whole case affirmatively.

The Court remarked that judicial notice would be taken of the peaceful relations subsisting between Spain and the United States, but that as to the other points the Court had no knowledge.

After some discussion, Mr. Evarts urging that there was no legal ground for postponement, and with the understanding that the case should proceed on Friday morning, without any doubt, the Court adjourned to that day at 11 o'clock.

Counsel for claimants then made a motion that the steamer be released, upon stipulations for value, and so relieve the claimants from the heavy pecuniary pressure and loss sustained.

The Court replied, that its recent decision would not be modified at.present; but if the case should not be tried at the present term, it would then concede the motion.



MR. WEBSTER. This is a proceeding, under a libel of information filed by the District Attorney of the United States for the Southern District of New York, to forfeit the steamship Meteor, for violation of the provisions of an act of Congress, approved April 20th, 1818.

The United States, acting in the sense of natural right, and following the rules of public law, as expounded by the jurists of continental Europe, asserted and established at an early period of their national history, the doctrine that vessels cannot be fitted out, within the limits of the United States, to cruise, in the interest of one belligerent, against another belligerent, with whom the United States.are at peace. The earliest conspicuous announcement of this doctrine was in opposition to the undertaking of the French government, through its minister, M. Genet, to man and fit out French cruisers in American ports for the purpose of attacking English vessels. Upon that occasion the federal government held that it was the sovereign right of the United States to exercise complete and exclusive jurisdiction within their own territory; to remain strictly neutral, if they pleased, in the face of other warring nations; and, therefore, that such fitting out of French ships, in American ports, for the purpose of cruising against English subjects, or property, was in derogation of the authority of the United States, and tended to interrupt the peace and good understanding which it was desirable should subsist between us and Great Britain.

Acting upon the admitted maxim of international law, that a State is prima facie responsible for those acts of individuals, done within its jurisdiction, which are acts of actual or meditated hostility against a nation with which that State professes to maintain relations of friendship or neutrality, the Congress of the United States, in 1794, passed an act, entitled “ An act in addition to an act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States." It was prepared by Alexander Hamilton, and was intended to enable the President of the United States to maintain the neutrality between England and France, which the nation professed, and to prevent, repress, and punish, the efforts of individuals to draw the nation, unwillingly, into that terrible conflict of arms.

The legislation of 1794 was designed to make it certain that war should not come upon us by reason of the irresponsible acts of individuals, whose greed for gain swallowed up all sense of the public good. The nation then disdained to be drawn sneakingly into war. If war must come, President Washington preferred that it come in the shape of satisfaction to be demanded for injuries, of rights to be asserted, of interests to be protected, of treaties to be performed. More than that, it was due to the great mass of the people, who had no desire or purpose to indulge in the illegitimate and dangerous traffic with either belligerent, that the few, who had a thirst for such outside commercial operations, should be so restrained, that their undertakings would not involve others in the expenditures, trials, and sufferings of war.

The act of 1794, by its own limitation, expired in two years. There was another passed, however, in 1817, and another, which is the latest, in 1818. The last, in 1818, repeals all former laws on the subject of our neutral relations. The first, second, third, fifth, and sixth sections of the act of 1818, now under consideration, are taken, in substance, from the early act of Mr. Hamilton, and the fourth section of the act of 1818 is taken from the act of 1797. So that judicial decisions, on the legislation of 1794 and 1797, are applicable, in a majority of cases, to the act of 1818.

The portion of the third section of the act of 1818, against which the government contends that the Meteor has offended, is as follows:

“If any person shall, within the limits of the United States, knowingly be concerned in the furnishing, fitting out, or arming of any ship or vessel, with intent that such ship or vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign state or people, to cruise, or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign state with whom the United States are at peace, such ship or vessel, with her tackle, apparel, and furniture, together with all materials, arms, ammunition, and stores, which may have been procured for the building and equip ment thereof, shall be forfeited.”

This clause, it will be seen, aims at hindering certain undertakings, and preventing the completion of certain offences. It is remedial in its character. It seeks to obstruct, quite as much as to punish. Its effort is, not only to prevent acts which must, but those which may, by possibility, endanger the peace of the United States.

Within its language is embraced every person, no matter whether he be a citizen, or a foreigner. It is only necessary that the act be done, and the intent exist in the United States. The act done, which draws after it forfeiture of the vessel, need not necessarily be performed by a principal; for it is sufficient, if anybody be “concerned,” either directly or indirectly, in the furnishing or fitting out of any vessel, with intent that she be employed in the service of a foreign State, to cruise against the subjects or property of another foreign state, with whom the United States are at peace. Congress has been especially searching, penetrating, and yet so general, as to embrace all persons who have anything to do with the purchasing, chartering, procuring, furnishing, or fitting out a vessel, to aid one belligerent against another, with whom the United States are at peace.

The sweeping character of the Neutrality Act of 1818, and the evident purpose of Congress to make its provisions so broad as to secure beyond peradventure the neutrality of the country, so far as acts of individuals are concerned, and also to prevent the possibility of the escape of offenders, is nowhere more apparent than in the absence of any limitation as to whether the person, concerned in furnishing or fitting out the inculpated ship, shall be an owner, or in condition at the time to actually control the property. The third section, in express terms, forfeits a vessel, if any person within the limits of the United States, no matter whether owner

« AnteriorContinuar »