Page images

Flanders, on a stipulation for the delivery of the cotton to the respective claimants, according to their shares, as stipulated between themselves, by which stipulation Hodges was entitled to 122 bales. He claimed damages for the 78 bales which he failed to receive, and for depreciation of price on the 122 bales received by him, and for legal expenses incurred, to the amount of $106,850, besides interest.

2. The second claim was for “hospital taxes” alleged to have been paid by the claimant to the military authorities at New Orleans under an order of Major-General Banks, then in command there, requiring that all cotton coming to New Orleans should pay a tax of 85 per bale; sugar, $1 per hogshead, &c., &c. The claimant alleged that lie paid said taxes under protest to the amount of $20,924, for which amount, with interest, he claimed damages.

3. The third claim was for 1,600 bales of cotton alleged to have been partly destroyed and partly carried off by the military forces of the United States, near Alexandria, La., in March, 1864, for which he claimed $125,040, besides interest.

4. The fourth claim was for a quantity of cotton near Pearl River, Mississippi, which he alleged was, “ by the neglect and inefficiency of the naval and military officers in command of the district, entirely and totally lost to your memorialist," and for wbich he claimed $224,600, besides interest.

5. The fifth claim was for a quantity of sugar and molasses, alleged to bare been stored by the memorialist in March, 1864, upon Old River, in Point Coupee, Louisiana. The claimant alleged that he sent a vessel in March, 1864, to remove this sugar and molasses, but that the vessel was prevented by the United States gun-boat fleet from landing and taking on board the sugar and molasses, and that in consequence the sugar and inolasses “ were entirely lost to your memorialist." For this he claimed $35,175, besides interest.

6. The sixth claim was for a quantity of sugar, alleged to have been purchased in March, 1861, by the claimant, from one Thorne, a resident of Saint Martin's Parish, La., where the sugar was situated. The claimant alleged that he hired a United States transport from the quartermaster of the United States Army, to whom he paid the sum of $3,000, to bring out the sugar from the plantation, where it was stored, to Brashear City, La., to be thence transported to New Orleans. That 81 hogsheads of the 300 purchased were brought out by said transport to Brashear City, where it was seized by the United States authorities, and libelled in the United es district court, but said libel was dismissed and the sugar surrendered. The United States authorities, however, prohibited the transport which the claimant had hired from returning for the remainder of the sugar; and, in consequence of such refusal, he alleged that the sugar was shortly afterwards destroyed by confederate scouts. For his losses in this regard, he claimed $81,565, besides interest.

7. The seventh claim was for a large quantity of cotton alleged to have been purchased by the claimant in the States of Louisiana and Mississippi, 1,000 bales of which he alleged to have been destroyed by troops of the United States, and the remainder to have been lost and destroyed through the negligence and default of the United States authorities. Under this claim he claimed an award for $580,000, besides interest.

During all the transactions in question the claimant was domiciled in New Orleans.

The questions arising in the case were, to a large extent, questions of fact, the recapitulation of which here would be unprofitable. In regard to most of the property set forth in claims 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, it was contended by the United States that the claimant's title was invalid, as obtained by unlawful purchases from enemies of the United States of property within the enemy's country, in violation of the nonintercourse statutes of the United States, and of the general laws of war. The permits under which most of this property was alleged to have been purchased were also claimed by the United States to bare been irregular, collusive, and fraudulent, issued in violation of law, and giving to the claimant no right to trade within the enemy's country.

In regard to the claim for payment of alleged illegal taxes, being the claimant's second claim, it was contended on the part of the United States that the tax was a lawful one, imposed by the commanding offi. cer at New Orleans, while that city was governed solely by martial law, as a condition for the carrying on of trade in that city; and its proceeds properly applied to the relief of the poor of the city, with whose care the military authorities were of necessity charged. That it was a tax imposed upon all persons trading in the city without discrimination, and voluntarily paid by the claimant in common with all other persons in like situation in New Orleans. Various other questions in regard to all the claims were raised and discussed by the respective counsel, but they were mainly such as relate only to the special circumstances of the case and the questions of fact involved in the evidence in relation to them.

The commission made an award in favor of the claimant for $34,150, Mr. Commissioner Frazer dissenting. I am advised that this award was made entirely in respect of the claimant's first claim above recited, aud of the amount paid by the claimant to the United States quartermaster for the use of the transport, as set forth in the sixth claim.

In the case of Peter Maxwell, No. 385, the memorial alleged that the claimant, during the entire war, was a resident of Liverpool. That in the year 1862 proceedings were instituted in the United States court for the district of Kansas for the confiscation of four lots of land situated in the city of Leavenworth, Kans., a State not in rebellion, on the alleged ground that the claimant was a rebel in arms against the United States. The only notice of the proceedings to the defendant

was a constructive notice by publication pursuant to the statute. No appearance being had by the now claimant, a decree of confiscation of two of the lots passed by default. As to the other two, the libel was dismissed.

The proofs before the commission clearly showed that the allegations in the libel as to the claimant being engaged in the rebellion against the United States were unfounded.

The commission made an award in favor of the claimant for $1,782.

Bailey & Leetham, claimants, No. 356. The claimants were the owners of the British steamship Labuan, which, on the 5th of November, 1862, was in the port of New York Jaden with a cargo of merchandise destined for Matamoras. On that day her master presented the manifest to the proper officer of the custom-house at New York for clearance, but such clearance was refused, and the refusal continued up to the 13th of December, 1862, on which day it was granted. The memorial alleged that this detention was by reason of instructions received by the custom-house officers from the proper authorities of the United States to detain the Labuan, in common with other vessels of great speed destined for ports in the Gulf of Mexico, to prevent the transmission of information relative to the departure or proposed departure of a military expedition fitted out by the authority of the said United States. The memorial claimed damages for the detention $38,000, being at the rate of $1,000 per day, the memorial alleging that on a former seizure and detention of the same vessel, from February to May, 1862, when libelled as prize, this rate of compensation for the detention bad been awarded to the owners by the district court of the United States.

On the part of the United States it was contended that the detention of the Labuan, under the circumstances alleged in the memorial, was within the legitimate and recognized powers of the United States; that it was no infringement upon the rules of international law or upon any treaty stipulations between the United States and Great Britain, and that it gave no right of reclamation in favor of the claimants against the United States; that the right of self-protection, by temporarily refusing clearance to vessels through which information of great importance in regard to military movements is likely to reach the enemy, must be regarded as of necessity permissible to a government engaged in war; that at the time of this detention important military movements then in progress in connection witi the occupation of New Orleans by the Federal forces, including the dispatch of General Banks, with large re-enforcements, to supersede General Butler in the command there, were in progress, and made it of the utmost importance that these movements should be carefully kept secret from the rebels; that the detention of the Labuan was not by any discrimination against her as a British vessel, or against British ressels as such. All vessels capable of such a rate of speed as to make their departure

dangerous in this regard were detained alike. That no claim bad ever been made by the British government, through the usual diplomatic channels, upon the United States for compensation; and that it could not

; be believed that such claim would not have been made if Her Majesty's government had considered such a claim valid. The counsel for the United States cited, in this connection, the letter of Mr. Stuart, Her Majesty's minister at Washington, to Mr. Seward, of 1st August, 1862, (U. S. Dip. Cor., 1862, 1863, part 1, p. 273,) upon a somewhat analogous question, in which Mr. Stuart says:

I have been instructed to state to you that Her Majesty's government, after considering these dispatches, in connection with the law-officers of the Crown, are of opinion that it is competent for the United States, as a belligerent power, to protect itself within its own ports and territory by refusing clearances to vessels laden with contraband of war or other specified articles, as well as to vessels which are believed to be bound to confederate ports. And that so long as such precautions are adopted, equally and indifferently in all cases, without reference to the nationality or origin of any particular vessel or goods, they do not afford any just ground of complaint.

The case of the detention of the Labuan, it was contended on the part of the United States, was governed by the same principles and justified by the same rules as the cases referred to by Mr. Stuart. The counsel referred to the decision of the commission upon the American claims against Great Britain, growing out of the prohibition of the exportation of saltpetre at Calcutta, (American claims, Nos. 11, 12, 16, 18,) hereinbefore reported, and in which such prohibition was held by the commission not to involve a violation either of international law or of treaty stipulation; and urged that the principles which would sus tain the validity of such prohibition must also include such a case as tbe detention of the Labuan.

The counsel for the claimant maintained that the detention of the Labuan was in effect a deprivation of the owners of the use of their property for the time of the detention for the public benefit; that it was in effect a taking of private property for public use, always justified by the necessity of the State, but likewise always involving the obligation of compensation. He cited 3d Phillimore, 42, and Dana's Wheaton, 152, n.

The commission unanimously made an award in favor of the clainant for $37,392.


In the case of Catharine J. Johnson, executrix, No. 419, the memo. rial alleged that the claimant's testator was the sole registered owner of the British schooner James Douglas, which vessel, while on a voyage from Cuba to New York, met with disaster which ied to her being abandoned by the master and crew ; that she was subsequently fallen in with by a United States vessel of war, which took her into the port of Beaufort, North Carolina, where she was appropriated to the use of the United States Government; that on application to that Government for her restoration, the Secretary of the Navy gave directions that the vessel be surrendered to her owner on his renouncing all claims for the use of the vessel by the United States; that, notwithstanding these orders, the vessel had nerer been restored to her owner, but was still in the port of Beaufort under the control of the officials of the United States. The claimant claimed damages $7,000, besides interest.

The proofs showed that, after the vessel was brought into port, and before any claim was interposed on behalf of her owner, some use had been made of the vessel by the Nary Department; that the claim of the owner was interposed through the British legation, and that the United States Government at once offered to surrender her on payment of a reasonable salvage to the officers and crew of the vessel which brought her in. Some objection being made to the payment of the salvage asked, the United States Government directed her surrender without salvage, on the claimant's waiving claim for compensation for the use that had been made of her while in port. No objection was made to this condition, and no further claim was ever advanced by any person for the vessel. She remained lying at Beaufort waiting requisition of her owner, and nothing further was ever heard of the matter until the filing of the memorial before the commission.

The commission (Mr. Commissioner Gurney dissenting) made an award in the following words:

We think it does not appear that the United States appropriated the vessel, and we regard it as yet being the claimant's property. The claim is, therefore, disallowed. All which is respectfully submitted.


Agent of the Uniteil States, al'c. WASHINGTON, November 30, 1873.

« PreviousContinue »