166 US 1 The Three Friends United States v. The Three Friends
166 U.S. 1
17 S.Ct. 495
41 L.Ed. 897
THE THREE FRIENDS. UNITED STATES
THE THREE FRIENDS et al.
March 1, 1897.
Page 2 The steamer Three Friends was seized November 7, 1896, by the collector of customs for the district of St. Johns, Fla., as forfeited to the United States under section 5283 of the Revised Statutes, and thereupon, November 12th, was libele 1 on behalf of the United States in the district court for the Southern district of Florida.
The first two paragraphs of the libel alleged the seizure and detention of the vessel, and the libel then continued:
'Third. That the said steamboat or steam vessel, the Three Friends, was on, to wit, on the 23d day of May, A. D. 1896, furnished, fitted out, and armed, with intent that she should be employed in the service of a certain people, to wit, certain people then engaged in armed resistance to the government of the king of Spain, in the Island of Cuba, to cruise, and commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, and property of the king of Spain, in the Island of Cuba, with whom the United States are and were at that date at peace.
'Fourth. That the said steamboat or steam vessel, Three Friends, on, to wit, on the 23d day of May, A. D. 1896, whereof one Napoleon B. Broward was then and there master, and within the said Southern district of Florida, was then and there fitted out, furnished, and armed, with intent that said vessel, the said Three Friends, should be employed in the service of a certain people, to wit, the insurgents in the Island of Cuba, otherwise called the 'Cuban revolutionists,' to cruise and commit hostilities against the subjects, proeprty, and people of the king of Spain, in the said Island of Cuba, with whom the United States are and were then at peace.
'Fifth. That the said steamboat or steam vessel, Three Friends, on, to wit, on the 23d day of May, A. D. 1896, and whereof one N. B. Broward was then and there master, within the navigable waters of the United States, and within the Southern district of Florida and the jurisdiction of this court, was then and there, by certain persons to the attorneys of the said United States unknown, furnished, fitted out, and armed, being loaded with supplies and arms and munitions of war, and it, the said steam vessel, Three Friends, being then and there furnished, fitted out, and armed with one certain gun or guns, the exact number to the said attorneys of the United States unknown, and with munitions of war thereof, with the intent then and there to be employed in the service of a certain people, to wit, certain people then engaged in armed resistance to the government of the king of Spain in the Island of Cuba, and with the intent to cruise and commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, and property of the king of Spain in the said Island of Cuba, and who, on the said date and day last aforesaid, and being so furnished, fitted out, and armed as aforesaid, then and there aforesaid, from the navigable waters of the United States, to wit, from the St. Johns river, within the Southern district of Florida, and within the jurisdiction of this court aforesaid, proceeded upon a voyage to the Island of Cuba aforesaid, with the intent aforesaid, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided. And that, by force and virtue of the acts of congress in such case made and provided, the said steamboat or steam vessel, her tackle, engines, machinery, apparel, and furniture, became and are forfeited to the use of the said United States.
'Sixth. And the said attorneys say that by reason of all and singular the premises aforesaid, and that by force of the statute in such case made and provided, the aforesaid and described steamboat or steam vessel, Three Friends, her tackle, machinery, apparel, and furniture, became and are forfeited to the use of the said United States.'
And concluded with a prayer for process and monition and the condemnation of the vessel as forfeited. Attachment and monition having issued as prayed, Napoleon B. Broward and Montcalm Broward, master and owners, intervened as claimants, applied for an appraisement of the vessel and her release on stipulation, and filed the following exceptions to the libel:
'(1) Section 5283, for an alleged violation of which the said vessel is sought to be forfeited, makes such forfeiture dependent upon the conviction of a person for doing the act or acts denounced in the first sentence of said section, and as a consequence of conviction of such person; whereas the allegations in said libel do not show what persons had been guilty of the acts therein denounced as unlawful.
'(2) The said libel does not show the Three Friends was fitted out and armed, attempted to be fitted out and armed, or procured to be fitted out and armed, in violation of said section.
'(3) The said libel does not show the said vessel was so fitted out and armed, or so attempted to be fitted out and armed, or so procured to be fitted out and armed or furnished, with the intent that said vessel should be employed in the service of a foreign prince or state or of a colony, district, or people with whom the United States are at peace.
'(4) The said libel does not show by whom said vessel was so fitted out.
'(5) Said libel does not show in the service of what foreign prince or state or colony or district or body politic the said vessel was so fitted out.
'(6) The said libel does not show that said vessel was so armed or fitted out or furnished with the intent that such vessel should be employed in the service of any body politic recognized by or known to the United States as a body politic.'
The vessel was appraised at $4,000, and a bond on stipulation given for $10,000, upon which she was directed to be released. The cause came on to be heard upon the exceptions to the libel, and on January 18th the following decree was entered (78 Fed. 175):
'This cause coming on to be heard upon exceptions to the libel, and having been fully heard and considered, it is ordered that said second, third, fifth, and sixth exceptions be sustained, and that the libelant have permission to amend said libel; and, in event said libel is not so amended within ten days, the same stand dismissed, and the bond herein filed be canceled.'
From this decree the United States, on January 23d, prayed an appeal to the United States circuit court of appeals for the Fifth circuit, which was allowed and duly prosecuted.
The following errors were assigned:
'First. For that the court, over the objection of the libelants, allowed the said steam vessel, Three Friends, to be released from custody upon the giving of bond.
'Second. For that the court erred in sustaining the 2d, 3d, 5th, and 6th exceptions of the claimants to the libel of information of the libelants.
'Third. For that the court erred in entering a decree dismissing the libel of information herein.'
On February 1st application was made to this court for a writ of certiorari to bring up the cause from said circuit court of appeals, and, having been granted and sent down, the record was returned accordingly.
Atty. Gen. Harmon and Asst. Atty. Gen. Whitney, for the United states.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 5-12 intentionally omitted]
W. Hallett Phillips and
[Argument of Counsel from pages 12-40 intentionally omitted] A. W. Cockrell, for respondents.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 40-49 intentionally omitted]
Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the oponion of the court.
It is objected that the decree was not final, but, inasmuch as the libel was ordered to stand dismissed if not amended within 10 days, the prosecution of the appeal, within that time, was an election to waive the right to amend, and the decree of dismissal took effect immediately.
In admiralty cases, among others enumerated, the decree of the circuit court of appeals is made final in that court by the terms of section 6 of the judiciary act of March 3, 1891; but this court may require any such case, by certiorari or otherwise, to be certified 'for its review and determination with the same power and authority in the case as if it had been carried by appeal or writ of error to the supreme court,'—that is, as if it had been brought directly from the district or the circuit court. 26 Stat. 826, c. 517, § 6.
Accordingly, the writ of certiorari may be issued in such cases to the circuit court of appeals, pending action by that court; and, although this is a power not ordinarily to be exercised (American Const. Co. v. Jacksonville, T. & K. W. Ry. Co., 148 U. S. 372, 385, 13 Sup. Ct. 758), we were of opinion that the circumstances justified the allowance of the writ in this instance, and the case is properly before us.
We agree with the district judge that the contention that forfeiture under section 5283 depends upon the conviction of a person or persons for doing the acts denounced is untenable. The suit is a civil suit in rem for the condemnation of the vessel only, and is not a criminal prosecution. The two proceedings are wholly independent, and pursued in different courts, and the result in each might be different. Indeed, forfeiture might be decreed if the proof showed the prohibited acts were committed, though lacking as to the identity of the particular person by whom they were committed. The Palmyra, 12 Wheat. 1; The Ambrose Light, 25 Fed. 408; The Meteor, 17 Fed. Cas. 178.
The Palmyra was a case of a libel of information against the vessel to forfeit her for a piratical aggression, under certain acts of congress which made no provision for the personal punishment of the offenders; but it was held that, even if such provision had been made, conviction would not have been necessary to the enforcement of forfeiture. And Mr. Justice Story, delivering the opinion, said: 'It is well known that at the common law, in many cases of felonies, the party forfeited his goods and chattels to the crown. The forfeiture did not, strictly speaking, attach in rem, but it was a part, or at least a consequence, of the judgment of conviction. It is plain from this statement that no right to the goods and chattels of the felon could be acquired by the crown by the mere commission on the offense, but the right attached only by the conviction of the offender. The necessary result was that, in every case where the crown sought to recover such goods and chattels, it was indispensable to establish its right by producing the record of the judgment of conviction. In the contemplation of the common law, the offender's right was not devested until the conviction. But this doctrine never was applied to seizures and forfeitures, created by statute, in rem, cognizable on the revenue side of the exchequer. The thing is here primarily considered as the offender, or rather the offense is attached primarily to the thing; and this whether the offense be malum prohibitum or malum in se. The same principle applies to proceedings in rem on seizures in the admiralty. Many cases exist where the forfeiture for acts done attaches solely in rem, and there is no accompanying penalty in personam. Many cases exist where there is both a forfeiture in rem and a personal penalty. But in neither class of cases has it ever been decided that the prosecutions were dependent upon each other. But the practice has been, and so this court understands the law to be, that the proceeding in rem stands independent of, and wholly unaffected by, any criminal proceeding in personam.' And see The Malek Adhel, 2 How. 210; U. S. v. The Little Charles, 1 Brock. 347, Fed. Cas. No. 15,612.
The libel alleged that the vessel was 'furnished, fitted out, and armed with intent that she should be employed in the service of a certain people, to wit, certain people then engaged gaged in armed resistance to the government of the king of Spain, in the Island of Cuba, to cruise and commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, and property of the king of Spain in the Island of Cuba, with whom the United States are and were at that date at peace.'
The learned district judge held that this was insufficient under section 5283, because it was not alleged 'that said vessel had been fitted out with intent that she be employed in the service of a foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people recognized as such by the political power of the United States.'
In Wiborg v. U. S., 163 U. S. 632, 16 Sup. Ct. 1127, 1197, which was an indictment under section 5286, we referred to the 11 sections, from 5281 to 5291, inclusive, which constitute title 67 of the Revised Statutes, and said: 'The statute was undoubtedly designed in general to secure neutrality in wars between two other nations, or between contending parties recognized as belligerents, but its operation is not necessarily dependent on the existence of such state of belligerency;' and the consideration of the present case, arising under section 5283, confirms us in the view thus expressed.
It is true that, in giving a r esum e of the sections, we referred to section 5283 as dealing 'with fitting out and arming vessels in this country in favor of one foreign power as against another foreign power with which we are at peace'; but that was matter of general description, and the entire scope of the section was not required to be indicated.
The title is headed 'Neutrality,' and usually called, by way of convenience, the 'Neutrality Act,' as the term 'Foreign Enlistment Act' is applied to the analogous British statute, but this does not operate as a restriction.
Neutrality, strictly speaking, consists in abstinence from any participation in a public, private, or civil war, and in impartiality of conduct towards both parties; but the maintenance unbroken of peaceful relations between two powers when the domestic peace of one of them is disturbed is not neutrality in the sense in which the word is used when the disturbance has acquired such head as to have demanded the recognition of belligerency. And, as mere matter of municipal administration, no nation can permit unauthorized acts of war within its territory in infraction of its sovereignty, while good faith towards friendly nations requires their prevention.
Hence, as Mr. Attorney General Hoar pointed out (13 Op. Attys. Gen. U. S. 178), though the principal object of the act was 'to secure the performance of the duty of the United States, under the law of nations, as a neutral nation in respect of foreign powers,' the act is, nevertheless, an act 'to punish certain offenses against the United States by fines, imprisonment, and forfeitures, and the act itself defines the precise nature of those offenses.'
These sections were brought forward from the act of April 20, 1818 (3 Stat. 447, c. 88), entitled 'An act in addition to the 'Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States,' and to repeal the acts therein mentioned,' which was derived from the act of June 5, 1794 (1 Stat. 381, c. 50), entitled 'An act in addition to the 'Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States," and the act of March 3, 1817 (3 Stat. 370, c. 58), entitled 'An act more effectually to preserve the neutral relations of the United States.'
The piracy act of March 3, 1819 (3 Stat. 510, c. 77; Rev. St. §§ 4293-4296, 5368), supplemented the acts of 1817 and 1818.
The act of 1794, which has been generally recognized as the first instance of municipal legislation in support of the obligations of neutrality, and a remarkable advance in the development of international law, was recommended to congress by President Washington in his annual address on December 3, 1793, was drawn by Hamilton, and passed the senate by the casting vote of Vice President Adams. Ann. 3d Cong. 11, 67. Its enactment grew out of the proceedings of the then French minister, which called forth President Washington's proclamation of neutrality in the spring of 1793. And though the law of nations had been declared by Chief Justice Jay, in his charge to the grand jury at Richmond, May 22, 1793 (Whart. St. Tr. 46, 56, Fed. Cas. No. 6,360), and by Mr. Justice Wilson, Mr. Justice Iredell, and Judge Peters, on the trial of Henfield in July of that year (Id. 66, 84), to be capable of being enforced in the courts of the United States criminally, as well as civilly, without further legislation, yet it was deemed advisable to pass the act in view of controversy over that position, and, moreover, in order to provide a comprehensive code in prevention of acts by individuals within our jurisdiction inconsistent with our own authority, as well as hostile to friendly powers.
Section 5283 of the Revised Statutes is as follows:
'Every person who, within the limits of the United States, fits out and arms, or attempts to fit out and arm, or procures to be fitted out and armed, or knowingly is concerned in the furnishing, fitting out, or arming, of any vessel with intent that such vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any freign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, with whom the United States are at peace, or who issues or delivers a commission within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, for any vessel, to the intent that she may be so employed, shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, and imprisoned not more than three years. And every such vessel, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, together with all materials, arms, ammunition, and stores, which may have been procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited; one-half to the use of the informer, and the other half to the use of the United States.'
By referring to section 3 of the act of June 5, 1794, section 1 of the act of 1817, and section 3 of the act of 1818, which are given in the margin,1 it will be seen that the words 'or of any colony, district, or people' were inserted in the original law by the act of 1817, carried forward by the act of 1818, and so into section 5283.
The immediate occasion of the passage of the act of March 3, 1817, appears to have been a communication, under date of December 20, 1816, from the Portuguese minister to Mr. Monroe, then secretary of state, informing him of the fitting out of privateers at Baltimore to act against Portugal, in case it should turn out that that government was at war with the 'self-styled government of Buenos Ayres,' and soliciting 'the proposition to congress of such provisions of law as will prevent such attempts for the future.' On December 26, 1816, President Madison sent a special message to congress, in which he referred to the inefficacy of existing laws 'to prevent violations of the obligations of the United States as a nation at peace towards belligerent parties and other unlawful acts on the high seas by armed vessels equipped within the waters of the United States,' and, 'with a view to maintain more effectually the respect due to the laws, to the character, and to the neutral and pacific relations of the United States,' recommended further legislative provisions. This message was transmitted to the minister December 27th, and he was promptly officially informed of the passage of the act in the succeeding month of March. Geneva Arbitration Case, United States, 138. In Mr. Dana's elaborate note to section 439 of his edition of Wheaton's International Law, it is said that the words 'colony, district, or people' were inserted on the suggestion of the Spanish minister that the South American provinces in revolt, and not recognized as independent, might not be included in the word 'state.' Under the circumstances, this act was entitled as 'to preserve the neutral relations of the United States,' while the title of the act of 1794 described it as 'in addition' to the crimes act of April 30, 1790 (1 Stat. 112, c. 9), and the act of 1818 was entitled in the same way. But there is nothing in all this to indicate that the words 'colony, district, or people' had reference solely to communities whose belligerency had been recognized, and the history of the times (an interesting review of which has been furnished us by the industry of counsel) does not sustain the view that insurgent districts or bodies, unrecognized as belligerents, were not intended to be embraced. On the contrary, the reasonable conclusion is that the insertion of the words 'district or people' should be attributed to the intention to include such bodies, as, for instance, the so-called 'Oriental Republic of Artigas,' and the governments of Petion and Christophe, whose attitude had been passed on by the courts of New York more than a year before, in Gelston v. Hoyt, 13 Johns. 141, 561, which was then pending in this court on writ of error. There was no reason why they should not have been included, and it is to the extended enumeration as covering revolutionary bodies laying claim to rights of sovereignty, whether recognized or unrecognized, that Chief Justice Marshall manifestly referred in saying, in The Gran Para, 7 Wheat. 471, 489, that the act of 1817 'adapts the previous laws to the actual situation of the world.' At all events, congress imposed no limitation on the words 'colony, district, or people,' by requiring political rec ognition.
Of course, a political community whose independence has been recognized is a 'state' under the act; and, if a body embarked in a revolutionary political movement, whose independence has not been, but whose belligerency has been, recognized, is also embraced by that term, then the words 'colony, district, or people,' instead of being limited to a political community which has been recognized as a belligerent, must necessarily be held applicable to a body of insurgents associated together in a common political enterprise, and carrying on hostilities against the parent country, in the effort to achieve independence, although recognition of belligerency has not been accorded.
And as, agreeably to the principles of international law and the reason of the thing, the recognition of belligerency, while not conferring all the rights of an independent state, concedes to the government recognized the rights, and imposes upon it the obligations, of an independent state in matters relating to the war being waged, no adequate ground is perceived for holding that acts in aid of such a government are not in aid of a state, in the sense of the statute.
Contemporaneous decisions are not to the contrary, though they throw no special light upon the precise question.
Gelston v. Hoyt, 3 Wheat. 246, decided at February term, 1818 (and below, January and February, 1816), was an action of trespass against the collector and surveyor of the port of New York for seizing the ship American Eagle, her tackle, apparel, etc. The seizure was made July 10, 1810, by order of President Madison under section 3 of the act of 1794, corresponding to section 5283. The ship was intended for the service of Petion against Christophe, who had divided the Island of Hayti between them, and were engaged in a bloody contest, but whose belligerency had not been recognized. It was held that the service of 'any foreign prince or state' imported a prince or state which had been recognized by the government, and, as there was no recognition in any manner, the question whether the recognition of the belligerency of a de facto sovereignty would bring it within those words did not arise.
The case of The Estrella, 4 Wheat. 298, involved the capture of the Venezuelan privateer on April 24, 1817. There was a recapture by an American vessel, ane the prize thus came before the court at New Orleans for adjudication. The privateer was found to have a regular commission from Bolivar, issued as early as 1816, but it had violated section 2 of the act of 1794, which is the same as section 2 of the act of 1818, omitting the words 'colony, district, or people' (and is now section 5282 of the Revised Statutes), by enlisting men at New Orleans, provided Venezuela was a state within the meaning of that act. The decision proceeded on the ground that Venezuela was to be so regarded on the theory that recognition of belligerency made the belligerent to that intent a state.
In The Nueva Anna and Liebre, 6 Wheat. 193, the record of a prize court at 'Galveztown,' constituted under the authority of the 'Mexican republic,' was offered in proof, and this court refused to recognize the belligerent right claimed, because our government had not acknowledged 'the existence of any Mexican republic or state at war with Spain'; and in The Gran Para, 7 Wheat. 471, Chief Justice Marshall referred to Buenos Ayres as a state, within the meaning of the act of 1794.
Even if the word 'state,' as previously employed, admitted of a less liberal signification, why should the meaning of the words 'colony, district, or people' be confined only to parties recognized as belligerent? Neither of these words is used as equivalent to the word 'state,' for they were added to enlarge the scope of a statute which already contained that word. The statute does not say 'foreign colony, district, or people,' nor was it necessary, for the reference is to that which is part of the dominion of a foreign prince or state, though acting in hostility to such prince or state. Nor are the words apt if confined to a belligerent. As argued by counsel for the government, an insurgent colony under the act is the same before as after the recognition of belligerency, as shown by the instance of the colonies of Buenos Ayres and Paraguay, the belligerency of one having been recognized, but not of the other, while the statute was plainly applicable to both. Nor is 'district' an appropriate designation of a recognized power de facto, since such a power would represent, not the territory actually held, but the territory covered by the claim of sovereignty. And the word 'people,' when not used as the equivalent of 'state' or 'nation,' must apply to a body of persons less than a state or nation; and this meaning would be satisfied by considering it as applicable to any consolidated political body.
In U. S. v. Quincy, 6 Pet. 445, 467, an indictment under the third section of the act of 1818, the court disposed of the following, among other, points, thus:
'The last instruction or opinion asked on the part of the defendant was that, according to the evidence in the cause, the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata is, and was at the time of the offense alleged in the indictment, a government, acknowledged by the United States, and thus was a 'state,' and not a 'people,' within the meaning of the act of congress under which the defendant is indicted, the word 'people' in that act being intended to describe communities under an existing government not recognized by the United States; and that the indictment, therefore, cannot be supported on this evidence.
'The indictment charges that the defendant was concerned in fitting out the Bolivar, with intent that she should be employed in the service of a foreign people; that is to say, in the service of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata. It was in evidence that the United Provinces of Rio de ia Plata had been regularly acknowledged as an independent nation by the executive department of the government of the United States, before the year 1827; and therefore it is argued that the word 'people' is not properly applicable to that nation or power.
'The objection is one purely technical, and we think not well founded. The word 'people,' as here used, is merely descriptive of the power in whose service the vessel was intended to be employed; and it is one of the denominations applied by the act of congress to a foreign power. The words are 'in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people.' The application of the word 'people' is rendered sufficiently certain by what follows under the videlicet, 'that is to say, the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata.' This particularizes that which by the word 'people' is left too general. The descriptions are no way repugnant or inconsistent with each other, and may well stand together. That which comes under the videlicet only serves to explain what is doubtful and obscure in the word 'people."
All that was decided was that any obscurity in the word 'people,' as applied to a recognized government, was cured by the videlicet.
Nesbitt v. Lushington, 4 Term R. 783, was an action on a policy of insurance in the usual form, and among the perils insured against were 'pirates, rovers, thieves,' and 'arrests, restraints, and detainments of all kings, princes, and people, of what nation, condition, or quality soever.' The vessel with a cargo of corn was driven into a port, and was seized by a mob, who assumed the government of her, and forced the captain to sell the corn at a low price. It was ruled that this was a loss by pirates, and the maxim, 'Noscitur a sociis,' was applied by Lord Kenyon and Mr. Justice Buller. Mr. Justice Buller said: "People' means 'the supreme power'; 'the power of the country,' whatever it may be. This appears clear from another part of the policy; for, where the underwriters insure against the wrongful acts of individuals, they describe them by the names of 'pirates, rogues, thieves.' Then, having stated all the individual persons against whose acts they engage, they mention other risks,—those occasioned by the acts of 'kings, princes, and people of what nation, condition, or quality soever.' Those words, therefore, must apply to 'nations' in their collective capacity.'
As remarked in the brief of Messrs. Richard H. Dana, Jr., and Horace Gray, Jr., filed by Mr. Cushing in Mauran v. Insurance Co., 6 Wall. 1, the words were 'doubtless originally inserted with the view of enumerating all possible forms of government, monarchical, aristocratical, and democratic.'
The British foreign enlistment act (59 Geo. III. c. 69) was bottomed on the act of 1818, and the seventh section, the opening portion of which is given below,2 corresponded to the third section of that act. Its terms were, however, considerably broader and left less to construction. But we think the words 'colony, district, or people' must be treated as equally comprehensive in their bearing here.
In the case of The Salvador, L. R. 3 P. C. 218, the Salvador had been seized under warrant of the governor of the Bahama Islands, and proceeded against in the vice admiralty court there for breach of that section, and was, upon the hearing of the cause, ordered to be restored; the court not being satisfied that the vessel was engaged, within the meaning of the section, in aiding parties in insurrection against a foreign government, as such parties did not assume to exercise the powers of government over any portion of the territory of such government. This decision was overruled on appeal by the judicial committee of the privy council, and Lord Cairns, delivering the opinion, said: 'It is to be observed that this part of the section is in the alternative. The ship may be employed in the service of a foreign prince, state, or potentate, or foreign state, colony, province, or part of any province or people; that is to say, if you find any consolidated body in the foreign state, whether it be the potentate, who has the absolute dominion, or the government, or a part of the province or of the people, or the whole of the province or the people acting for themselves, that is sufficient. But, by way of alternative, it is suggested that there may be a case where, although you cannot say that the province, or the people, or a part of the province or people, are employing the ship, there yet may be some person or persons who may be exercising, or assuming to exercise, powers of government in the foreign colony or state, drawing the whole of the material aid for the hostile proceedings from abroad; and therefore, by way of alternative, it is stated to be sufficient if you find the ship prepared or acting in the service of 'any person or persons exercising, or assuming to exercise, any powers of government in or over any foreign state, colony, province, or part of any province or people'; but that alternative need not be resorted to if you find the ship is fitted out and armed for the purpose of being 'employed in the service of any foreign state or people, or part of any province or people.' * * *
'It may be (it is not necessary to decide whether it is or not) that you could not state who were the person or persons, or that there were any person or persons, exercising, or assuming to exercise, powers of government in Cuba, in opposition to the Spanish authorities. That may be so. Their lordships express no opinion upon that subject, but they will assume that there might be a difficulty in bringing the case within that second alternative of the section; but their lordships are clearly of opinion that there is no difficulty in bringing the case under the first alternative of the section, because their lordships find these propositions established beyond all doubt: There was an insurrection in the island of Cuba; there were insurgents who had formed themselves into a body of people acting together, undertaking and conducting hostilities; these insurgents, beyond all doubt, formed part of the province or people of Cuba; and, beyond all doubt, the ship in question was to be employed, and was employed, in connection with and in the service of this body of insurgents.'
We regard these observations as entirely apposite, and while the word 'people' may mean the entire body of the inhabitants of a state, or the state or nation collectively in its political capacity, or the ruling power of the country, its meaning in this branch of the section, taken in connection with the words 'colony' and 'district,' covers, in our judgment, any insurgent or insurrectionary 'body of people acting together, undertaking and conducting hostilities,' although its belligerency has not been recognized. Nor is this view otherwise than confirmed by the use made of the same words in the succeeding part of the sentence, for they are there employed in another connection; that is, in relation to the cruising or the commission of hostilities 'against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, with whom the United States are at peace,' and, as thus used, are affected by obviously different considerations. If the necessity of recognition in respect of the objects of hostilities, by sea or land, were conceded, that would not involve the concession of such necessity in respect of those for whose service the vessel isfitted out.
Any other conclusion rests on the unreasonable assumption that the act is to remain ineffectual unless the government incurs the restraints and liabilities incident to an acknowledgment of belligerency. On the one hand, pecuniary demands, reprisals, or even war may be the consequence of failure in the performance of obligations towards a friendly power, while on the other the recognition of belligerency involves the rights of blockade, visitation, search, and seizure of contraband articles on the high seas, and abandonment of claims for reparation on account of damages suffered by our citizens from the prevalence of warfare.
No intention to circumscribe the means of avoiding the one by imposing as a condition the acceptance of the contingencies of the other can be imputed.
Belligerency is recognized when a political struggle has attained a certain magnitude, and affects the interests of the recognizing power; and, in the instance of maritime operations, recognition may be compelled, or the vessels of the insurgents, if molesting third parties, may be pursued as pirates. The Ambrose Light, 25 Fed. 408; 3 Whart. Int. Law, § 381, and authorities cited.
But it belongs to the political department to determine when belligerency shall be recognized, and its action must be accepted according to the terms and intention expressed.
The distinction between recognition of belligerency and recognition of a condition of political revolt—between recognition of the existence of war in a material sense and of war in a legal sense—is sharply illustrated by the case before us; for here the political department has not recognized the existence of a de facto belligerent power engaged in hostility with Spain, but has recognized the existence of insurrectionary warfare prevailing before, at the time, and since this forfeiture is alleged to have been incurred.
On June 12, 1895, a formal proclamation was issued by the president, and countersigned by the secretary of state, informing the people of the United States that the Island of Cuba was 'the seat of serious civil disturbances, accompanied by armed resistance to the authority of the established government of Spain, a power with which the United States are and desire to remain on terms of peace and amity'; declaring that 'the laws of the United States prohibit their citizens, as well as all others being within and subject to their jurisdiction, from taking part in such disturbances adversely to such established government, by accepting or exercising commissions for warlike service against it, by enlistment or procuring others to enlist for such service, by fitting out or arming, or procuring to be fitted out and armed, ships of war for such service, by augmenting the force of any ship of war engaged in such service and arriving in a port of the United States, and by setting on foot or providing or preparing the means for military enterprises to be carried on from the United States against the territory of such government'; and admonishing all such citizens and other persons to abstain from any violation of these laws.
In his annual message of December 2, 1895, the president said: 'Cuba is again gravely disturbed. An insurrection, in some respects more active than the last preceding revolt, which continued from 1868 to 1878, now exists in a large part of the eastern interior of the island, menacing even some populations on the coast. Besides deranging the commercial exchanges of the island, of which our country takes the predominant share, this flagrant condition of hostilities, by arousing sentimental sympathy and inciting adventurous support among our people, has entailed earnest effort on the part of this government to enforce obedience to our neutrality laws, and to prevent the territory of the United States from being abused as a vantage ground from which to aid those in arms against Spanish sovereignty.
'Whatever may be the traditional sympathy of our countrymen as individuals with a people who seem to be struggling for larger autonomy and greater freedom, deepened as such sympathy naturally must be in behalf of our neighbors, yet the plain duty of their government is to observe in good faith the recognized obligations of international relationship. The performance of this duty should not be made more difficult by a disregard on the part of our citizens of the obligations growing out of their allegiance to their country, which should restrain them from violating as individuals the neutrality which the nation of which they are members is bound to observe in its relations to friendly sovereign states. Though neither the warmth of our people's sympathy with the Cuban insurgents, nor our loss and material damage consequent upon the futile endeavors thus far made to restore peace and order, nor any shock our humane sensibilities may have received from the cruelties which appear to especially characterize this sanguinary and fiercely conducted war, have in the least shaken the determination of the government to honestly fulfill every international obligation, yet it is to be earnestly hoped, on every ground, that the devastation of armed conflict may speedily be stayed, and order and quiet restored to the distracted island, bringing in their train the activity and thrift of peaceful pursuits.'
July 27, 1896, a further proclamation was promulgated, and in the annual message of December 7, 1896, the president called attention to the fact that 'the insurrection in Cuba still continues with all its perplexities,' and gave an extended review of the situation.
We are thus judicially informed of the existence of an actual conflict of arms in resistance of the authority of a government with which the United States are on terms of peace and amity, although acknowledgment of the insurgents as belligerents by the political department has not taken place; and it cannot be doubted that, this being so, the act in question is applicable.
We see no justification for importing into section 5283 words which it does not contain, and which would make its operation depend upon the recognition of belligerency; and, while the libel might have been drawn with somewhat greater precision, we are of opinion that it should not have been dismissed.
This conclusion brings us to consider whether the vessel ought to have been released on bond and stipulation.
It is provided by section 938 of the Revised Statutes that:
'Upon the prayer of any claimant to the court, that any vessel, goods, wares, or merchandise, seized and prosecuted under any law respecting the revenue from imports or tonnage, or the registering and recording, or the enrolling and licensing of vessels, or any part thereof, should be delivered to him, the court shall appoint three proper persons to appraise such property, who shall be sworn in open court, or before a commissioner appointed,' etc. 'If, on the return of the appraisement, the claimant, with one or more sureties, to be approved by the court, shall execute a bond to the United States,' etc., 'the court shall, by rule, order such vessel, goods, wares, or merchandise to be delivered to such claimant. * * *'
Section 939 provides for the sale of vessels 'condemned by virtue of any law respecting the revenue from imports or tonnage, or the registering and recording, or the enrolling and licensing of vessels, and for which bond shall not have been given by the claimant. * * *'
Section 940 authorizes the judges to do in vacation everything that they could do in term time in regard to bonding and sales, and to 'exercise every other incidental power necessary to the complete execution of the authority herein granted.'
Section 941 provides:
'When a warrant of arrest or other process in rem is issued in any cause of admiralty jurisdiction, except the cases of seizure for forfeiture under any law of the United States, the marshal shall stay the execution of such process, or discharge the property arrested if the process has been levied, on receiving from the claimant of the property a bond or stipulation in double the amount claimed by the libellant, with sufficient surety, to be approved by the judge,' etc.
By section 917 this court may prescribe rules of practice in admiralty 'in any manner not inconsistent with any law of the United States.'
Rule 10, as thus prescribed, provides for the sale of perishable articles or their delivery upon security to 'abide by and pay the money awarded by the final decree.'
Rule 11 is as follows:
'In like manner, where any ship shall be arrested, the same may, upon the application of the claimant, be delivered to him upon a due appraisement, to be had under the direction of the court, upon the claimant's depositing in court so much money as the court shall order, or upon his giving a stipulation, with sureties, as aforesaid; and if the claimant shall decline any such application, then the court may, in its discretion, upon the application of either party, upon due cause shown, order a sale of such ship, and the proceeds thereof to be brought into court or otherwise disposed of, as it may deem most for the benefit of all concerned.'
In The Mary N. Hogan, 17 Fed. 813, Judge Brown, of the Southern district of New York, refused to deliver the vessel on stipulation, and, referring to rule 11, said that it was not in form imperative in all cases, but left to the court a discretion which might be rightly exercised under peculiar circumstances; and that the rule clearly should not be applied where the object of the suit was 'not the enforcement of any money demand, nor to secure any payment of damages, but to take possession of and forfeit the vessel herself in order to prevent her departure upon an unlawful expedition in violation of the neutrality laws of the United States.' And he added: 'It is clearly not the intention of section 5283, in imposing a forfeiture, to accept the value of the vessel as the price of a hostile expedition against a friendly power, which might entail a hundredfold greater liabilities on the part of the government. No unnecessary interpretation of the rules should be adopted which would permit that result; and yet such might be the result, and even the expected result, of a release of the vessel on bond. The plain intent of section 5283 is effectually to prevent any such expedition altogether, through the seizure and forfeiture of the vessel herself. The government is therefore entitled to retain her in custody, and rule 11 cannot be properly applied to such a case.'
In The Alligator (decided in 1812) 1 Gall. 145, Fed. Cas. No. 248, Mr. Justice Story referred to an invariable practice, in all proper cases of seizure, to take bonds for the property whenever application was made by the claimant for the purpose, but that was a case where the claimant had been allowed to give bond without objection, and was attempting to avoid payment by alleging its irregularity; and in The Struggle (1813) 1 Gall. 476, Fed. Cas. No. 13,550, the same eminent judge, in making a similar ruling, said: 'That, where the claimant voluntarily accepts a delivery on bail, it is an estoppel of his right to contest the validity of the security.'
But in section 941 of the Revised Statutes the exception was introduced of 'cases of seizure for forfeiture under any law of the United States'; and it seems obvious that the release on bond of a vessel charged with liability to forfeiture under section 5283, before answer or hearing, and against the objection of the United States, could not have been contemplated. However, as this application was not based upon absolute right, but addressed to the sound discretion of the court, it is enough to hold that, under the circumstances of this case, the vessel should not have been released as it was, and should be recalled on the ground that the order of release was improvidently made. U. S. v. Ames, 99 U. S. 39, 41, 43. If the vessel is held without probable cause, her owners can recover demurrage; and, moreover, vessels so situated are frequently allowed to pursue their ordinary avocations whild in custody pending suit, under proper supervision, and in order to prevent hardship.
The decree must be reversed, and the cause remanded to the district court, with directions to resume custody of the vessel, and proceed with the case in conformity with this opinion.
Mr. Justice HARLAN, dissenting.
I am unable to concur in the views expressed by the court in the opinion just delivered. In my judgment, a very strained construction has been put on the statute3 under which this case arises,—one not justified by its words, or by any facts disclosed by the record, or by any facts of a public character of which we may take judicial cognizance. It seems to me that the better construction is that given by the learned judge of the district court. I concur in the general views expressed in his able and satisfactory opinion, which is given below. That opinion so clearly and forcibly states the reasons in support of the conclusion reached by me that I am relieved of the labor of preparing one, which I would be glad to do if the pressure in respect of other business in the court did not render that course impracticable.
The present case has been made to depend largely upon the language of public documents issued by the executive branch of the government. If the defects in the libel can be supplied in that way, reference should be made to the last annual message and accompanying documents sent by President Cleveland to the congress of the United States. In that message the president said that the so-called 'Cuban Government' had given up all attempt to exercise its functions, and that it was 'confessedly (what there is the best reason for supposing it always to have been in fact) a government merely on paper.' And in his report to the president, under date of December 7, 1896, the secretary of state said: 'So far as our information shows, there is not only no effective local government by the insurgents in the territories they overrun, but there is not even a tangible pretense to established administration anywhere. Their organization, confined to the shifting exigencies of the military operations of the hour, is nomadic, without definite centers, and lacking the most elementary features of municipal government. There nowhere appears the nucleus of statehood. The machinery for exercising the legitimate rights and powers of sovereignty, and responding to the obligations which de facto sovereignty entails in the face of equal rights of other states, is conspicuously lacking. It is not possible to discern a homogeneous political entity, possessing and exercising the functions of administration, and capable, if left to itself, of maintaining orderly government in its own territory, and sustaining normal relations with the external family of governments.'
It does not seem to me that the persons thus described as having no government except one on paper, with no power of administration, and entirely nomadic, constitute a colony, district, or 'people,' within the meaning of the statute. In my opinion, the words 'of any colony, district, or people' should be interpreted as applying only to a colony, district, or people that have 'subjects, citizens, or property.' I cannot agree that the persons described by the president and secretary of state can be properly regarded as constituting a colony, district, or people, having subjects, citizens, or property. It cannot be that the words 'any colony, district, or people,' where they first appear in section 5283, have any different meaning from the same words in a subsequent clause, 'the subjects, citizens, or property * * * of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States are at peace.' The United States cannot properly be said to be 'at peace,' or not 'at peace,' with insurgents who have no government except 'on paper,' no power of administration, and are merely nomads.
DOCKE, District Judge.
This vessel has been libeled for forfeiture under the provisions of section 5283 of the Revised Statutes of the United States.
The libel alleges that said steam vessel was on the 23d day of May, A. D. 1896, furnished, fitted, and armed 'with intent that she should be employed by certain insurgents or persons in the Island of Cuba to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of the said Island of Cuba, and against the king of Spain, and the subjects, citizens, and property of the said king of Spain in the Island of Cuba, with whom the United States are and were at that date at peace.'
To this there have been exceptions filed upon two grounds:
(1) That forfeiture under this section depends upon the conviction of a person or persons for doing the acts denounced; and
(2) That the libel does not show that the vessel was armed or fitted out with the intention that she should be employed in the service of a foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, recognized or known to the United States as a body politic.
The first objection raised by these exceptions is easily disposed of by the language of the supreme court in the case of The Palmyra, 12 Wheat. 1, where, after elaborate argument, it is said:
'Many cases exist when the forfeiture for acts done attaches solely in rem, and there is no accompanying penalty in personam; many cases exist where there is both a forfeiture in rem and a personal penalty; but in neither class of cases has it ever been decided that the prosecutions were dependent upon each other. But the practice has been, and so this court understands the law to be, that the proceeding in rem stands independent and wholly unaffected by any criminal proceeding in personam. * * * In the judgment of this court, no personal conviction of the offender is necessary to enforce a forfeiture in rem in cases of this nature.' The other question raised by the exceptions is more difficult, and requires a construction of the clause of the section 5283, 'with intent that such vessel should be employed in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people,' and more particularly the significance of the words 'colony, district, or people,' and a determination whether the requirements of the law are satisfied by the allegations of the libel that the vessel was intended to be employed 'in the service of certain insurgents or persons in the Island of Cuba,' and whether the statute admits a construction which would make a vessel liable to forfeiture when fitted out for the intended employment of any one or more persons not recognized as a political power by the executive of our nation.
The section under which this libel has been filed was originally the third section of the act of June 5, 1794 (1 Stat. p. 281, c. 50), and the language at that time only contained the provision that the vessel should be fitted out with intent that said vessel should be employed in the service of any foreign prince or state to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign prince or state with whom the United States might be at peace.
While that was the language of the act, the question came before the supreme court in the case of Gelston v. Hoyt, 3 Wheat. 328, and, in speaking of a plea considered necessary for a defense to a suit for damages for a seizure under this statute, it was held that such plea was bad, 'because it does not aver the governments of Petion and Christophe are foreign states which have been duly recognized as such by the government of the United States.'
In this case there was no distinction made between the party in whose service the vessel was to be employed and the one against whom hostilities were intended, and the language of the court would fully justify the conclusion they should both have been recognized, either as princes or states.
Subsequently, as is stated by Mr. Wharton in his work on International Law, upon the outbreak of war between the South American colonies and Spain, upon a special message of the president to congress upon the subject, the words 'or of any colony, district, or people' were added to the description of both parties contemplated,—both that one into whose employment the vessel was to enter, and that one against whom the hostilities were contemplated.
Has the addition of these words changed the character of the party intending to employ such vessel from that of a political power duly recognized as such, as is declared by the court in Gelston v. Hoyt, to that of a collection of individuals without any recognized political position? This question has been before the courts frequently, and several times been examined and commented upon; but in no case which I have been able to find has it been so presented, unconnected with questions of fact, that there has been a ruling upon it so that it can be considered as final and conclusive.
Beyond question the courts are bound by the actions of the political branch of the government in the recognition of the political character and relations of foreign nations, and of the conditions of peace or war.
The act of 1794, as well as its modification, that act of 1818, used the same language in describing the power or party in whose behalf or into whose service the vessel was intended to enter as was used in describing the political power against which it is intended that hostilities should be committed; and, as far as the language itself goes, it is impossible to say that, in using the words in one clause of the sentence, the political character and power was intended, while in another clause of the same sentence words used in exactly the same connection, and with apparently the same force and meaning, were intended to represent, not the political power, but the individuals of a certain colony, district, or people.
It is contended that although the original act of 1794 required the construction given it in Gelston v. Hoyt, that each party should be one duly recognized by the United States, yet the modification of 1818 so changed it that it should be held to apply to any persons, regardless of their political character, for whose service a vessel might be intended.
It is understood that this modification was brought about by the special message of President Madison of December 26, 1816. The question presented by this message is clearly set forth in the language used. He says: 'It is found that the existing laws have not the efficacy necessary to prevent violations of the United States as a nation at peace towards belligerent parties, and other unlawful acts on the high seas by armed vessels equipped within the waters of the United States.'
In further explanation of the condition of affairs which called for this modification of this statute may be considered the letter of Mr. Monroe, secretary of state, to Mr. Forsythe, January 10, 1817, in which he speaks of vessels going out as merchant vessels, and hoisting the flag of some of the belligerents, and cruising under it; of other vessels, armed and equipped in our ports, hoisting such flags after getting out to sea; and of vessels having taken on board citizens of the United States, who, upon the arrival at neutral points, have assumed the character of officers and soldiers in the service of some of the parties in the contest then prevailing. All of this correspondence shows that the effort at that time was to enforce neutrality between recognized and belligerent parties. That the parties then in contest were recognized as belligerents, and a neutrality was sought to be preserved, is clearly shown by the first annual message of President Monroe, in 1817. He says: 'Through every stage of the conflict, the United States have maintained an impartial neutrality, giving aid to neither of the parties in men, money, ships, or munitions of war. They have regarded the contest, not in the light of an ordinary insurrection or rebellion, but as a civil war between parties nearly equal, having, as to neutral powers, equal rights. Our ports have been opened to both, and any article * * * that either was permitted to take has been equally free to the other.'
It is considered that this shows what was in contemplation at the time of the enactment of the law of 1818, and that what was intended was to prevent the fitting out of vessels to be employed in the service of a colony, district, or people which had been recognized as belligerents, but which had not been recognized as an independent state, or which was not represented in the political world by a prince.
There appears to be nothing in the remedy demanded at that time, or in the language used, to show that the words so added were intended to represent or be construed as referring to the individual people of any colony, district, or people, or any number of them, however designated, except as in their collective representative political capacity, any more than there is to show that the term 'state' in the original was intended to refer to the individual people of the state.
The language of the foreign enlistment act of Great Britain (59 Geo. III. c. 69, § 7) leaves no question as to the intention of parliament in that legislation, as it added to the words of our statute the words 'or part of any province or people or of any person exercising or assuming to exercise any powers of government in or over any foreign state, colony, province or parts of any province or people.'
In order to give the statute under which this libel is brought the force contended for by the libelant, it is necessary to eliminate from the provision that makes it necessary to declare how the vessel is to be employed the entire clause 'in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people,' or to read into it the language found in the act of Great Britain or its equivalent. That it was the general understanding at the time of the passage of the original act that it was considered to apply only to duly recognized nations is shown by the fact that in the case of U. S. v. Guinet, 2 Dall. 321, Fed. Cas. No. 15,270, under this same section (the first case brought under it) the indictment alleged fully in terms that both the state of the republic of France, in whose service the vessel was to be employed, and the king of Great Britain, were a state and a prince with whom the United States was at peace.
In the case of U. S. v. Quincy, 6 Pet. 445, the supreme court says that the word 'people' was used in this statute as simply descriptive of the power in whose service the vessel was intended to be employed, and is one of the denominations applied by the acts of congress to a foreign power.
In the case of The Meteor, Fed. Cas. No. 9,498, where the original libel alleged that the vessel was fitted out with the intent that she should be employed in the service of certain persons to commit hostilities against the government of Spain, it was considered necessary to amend it by alleging that she was intended to be employed by the government of Chili; and in that case there was presented a certificate of the secretary of state, under seal, of the fact of the war existing between Spain and Chili, and that they were both nations with whom the United States were at peace.
In addition to the declaration of the supreme court in the cases of Gelston v. Hoyt and U. S. v. Quincy, this question has been incidentally under examination in several cases in the lower courts. In the case of The Carondelet, 37 Fed. 800, Judge Brown says: 'Section 5283 is designed in general to secure our neutrality between foreign belligerent powers. But there can be no obligation of neutrality except towards some recognized state or power, de jure or de facto. Neutrality presupposes two belligerents, at least; and, as respects any recognition of belligerency,—i. e., of belligerent rights,—the judiciary must follow the executive. To fall within the statute, the vessel must be intended to be employed in the service of one foreign prince, state, colony, district, or people to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of another with which the United States are at peace. The United States can hardly be said to be at peace, in the sense of the statute, with a faction which they are unwilling to recognize as a government; nor could the cruising or committing of hostilities against such a mere faction well be said to be committing hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of a district or people, within the meaning of the statute. So, on the other hand, a vessel, in entering the service of the opposite faction of Hippolyte, could hardly be said to enter the service of a foreign prince or state, or of a colony, district, or people, unless our government had recognized Hippolyte's faction, as at least constituting a belligerent, which it does not appear to have done.'
In the case of The Conserva, 38 Fed. 481, a case in which it was alleged the vessel was to be used in a contest between Legitime and Hippolyte, Judge Benedict says: 'The libel in this case charges certain facts to have been done in connection with the vessel with the intention that the vessel be employed in the service of certain rebels in a state of insurrection against the organized and recognized government of Hayti, to cruise and commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of the republic of Hayti, with whom the United States are at peace. A violation of the neutrality which the United States is obliged to maintain between the rebels mentioned and the government of the republic of Hayti is the gravamen of the charge. But the evidence fails to show a state of facts from which the court concluded that the United States was ever under any obligation of neutrality to the rebels mentioned, or is now under any obligation of neutrality to the government of the republic of Hayti.'
In the case of U. S. v. Trumbull, 48 Fed. 99, Judge Ross carefully reviews the different authorities, examines the question, and clearly indicates how he would have decided the question had it been necessary for the purposes of deciding the case before. He says: 'Does section 5283 of the Revised Statutes apply to any people whom it is optional with the United States to treat as pirates? That section is found in the chapter headed 'Neutrality,' and it was carried into the Revised Statutes, and was originally enacted in furtherance of the obligations of the nation as a neutral. The very idea of neutrality imports that the neutral will treat each contending party alike; and it will accord no right or privilege to one that it withholds from the other, and will withhold none from one that it accords to the other.'
In speaking of the case of U. S. v. Quincy, in which it was said that the word 'people' 'was one of the denominations applied by the act of congress to a foreign power,' he says: 'This can hardly mean and association of people in no was recognized by the United States or by the government against which they are rebelling, whose rebellion has not attained the dignity of war, and who may, at the option of the United States, be treated by them as pirates.'
In the case of U. S. v. The Itata, 5 C. C. A. 608, 56 Fed. 505, on appeal before the circuit court of appeals, the question was fully and carefully considered in an elaborate opinion, and although not found necessary to decide the question in this case, as the case was disposed of upon other grounds, it is considered to be apparent how the question would have been decided had it been necessary. The force of the word 'people,' as used in this statute, is carefully examined, as well as all other questions, and it is considered that the force of the conclusion which must necessarily result from such investigations cannot be avoided.
In the case of U. S. v. Hart, 74 Fed. 724, Judge Brown expresses his view of this section by saying: 'Section 5283 deals with armed cruisers, designed to commit hostilities in favor of one foreign power as against another foreign power with whom we are at peace.'
The same language is used by the court in the case of Wiborg v. U. S., 163 U. S. 632, 16 Sup. Ct. 1127, 1197, but it is contended in behalf of the libelant that this language was modified by the subsequent declaration, made in the same case, that the operation of this statute is not necessarily dependent on the existence of such state of billigerency. In using the latter language, it would seem that the court had the entire statute under contemplation, and more particularly section 5286, Rev. St. (the sixth section of the original act), which plainly does not depend upon a state of belligerency or neutrality. This was the section then under consideration, as the immediate context and following sentence show, and was the section upon which the suit was based; and it cannot be considered that this language was intended to apply to another section, the consideration of which was in no way called in question.
With this understanding of the language in this case, in that case, every judicial decision, remark, or ruling, where the question has been under consideration or examination, appears to be in favor of the position taken by the claimants in the exceptions.
In the case of The Mary N. Hogan, 18 Fed. 529, and in the cases of the intended charge of that vessel, boxes of arms and ammunition (20 Fed. 50), it does not appear that this question was raised by the claimant or considered by the learned judge; and his language in the subsequent case of The Carondelet, where it was raised and discussed, may be accepted as presumptive proof of what his decision would have been, had it been so considered.
The same is true of the case of The City of Mexico, 28 Fed. 148, decided by me in this court. In that case the defense was upon entirely different grounds, and the force of the portion of the statute contended for, the necessity that there should be an intent not only that the vessel should intend to commit hostilities, but that for such purposes she should be employed in the service of some political power, was entirely lost sight of and eliminated from the consideration of the case.
The only expression authoritatively given which I have been able to find opposed to the view of the claimant in his exceptions is that of a portion of the letter of the honorable attorney general to the secretary of state, of December 16, 1869 (13 Op. Attys. Gen. U. S. 177), and cited in the case of Wiborg v. U. S. I do not consider that I should be doing myself justice to pass that by unnoticed, as it has raised more questions in my mind, and called for and compelled more thought and consideration, than anything else connected with the case; but I feel compelled to reach a different conclusion than is there expressed.
The general purpose and intent of that letter was to declare that the insurrection in Cuba was not a fitting opportunity to enforce the provisions of this law, inasmuch as we owed no duty to such insurgents to protect them from hostilities, or, rather, that any contest between Spain and such insurgents could not be considered as hostilities, but incidentally it was stated that a condition of belligerency was not necessary for the operation of this statute.
It could not be considered that we owed such insurgents no such duty because we were not at peace with them, but because we had never recognized them as a colony, district, or people.
The force and effect of the letter was that the Cuban insurgents had not been recognized as a colony, district, or people, and therefore this section did not apply. If they had not been then so recognized, or were not entitled to be so recognized, how can they now be so recognized or described as to come within terms of the statute in question?
It is considered that the argument used in such letter to show that the statute should be held applicable to cases where there was no condition of belligerency, and but one political power recognized, would have been fully as applicable under the old law, when the case of Gelston v. Hoyt decided to the contrary.
The fact that a vessel was fitted out to be employed in the service of a prince would not necessarily imply that such prince was a political power recognized by the United States, any more than would the terms a 'colony, district, or people,' under the act of 1818. But the supreme court clearly held in that case that it must be alleged that such prince or state has been recognized as such by the United States. The same argument used therein would call for the application of this statute for the forfeiture of any vessel fitted out to be employed by any person, individual, corporation, or firm for the purpose of committing hostilities against a state at peace, which would plainly not come within the provisions of the statute, however, much it might be considered international policy or proper national conduct.
It is impossible, in my view of the construction required by the language used, to properly apply the term 'a people,' used in the connection in which it is found, to any persons, few in number, and occupying a small territory, with no recognized political organization, although they might procure the fitting out and ariming of a vessel. I fail to find any ground for giving this statute—a criminal one, as it is—any but its ordinary application. The question presented is clear and distinct: Are 'certain insurgents or persons in the Island of Cuba' properly described by either of the terms 'a colony,' 'a district,' or 'a people,' and, if so, which? The inconveniences which might arise from the political branch of our government recognizing such insurgents as a colony, district, or people having political existence, and as belligerents, cannot be considered in determining whether they are entitled to such description.
This statute is a criminal and penal one, and is not to be enlarged beyond what the language clearly expresses as being intended. It is not the privilege of courts to construe such statutes according to the emergency of the occasion, or according to temporary questions of policy, but according to the principles considered to have been established by a line of judicial decisions.
It is contended that, if the principles embodied in the exceptions are declared to be the law, there can be no law for the prevention of the fitting out of armed and hostile vessels to stir up insurrections and commit hostilities against nations with which we are at peace, and that such conclusion would make the parties engaged in any such expedition liable to prosecution as pirates.
To the first of these points, it is considered that section 5286 is, as has been constantly held, intended to prevent any such expeditions, regardless of the character of the parties in whose behalf they were organized, the only distinction being that in that case it is necessary to bring a criminal suit, and prove overt acts; while under this portion of this section the intent is the gravamen of the charge and the prosecution is against the vessel, regardless of the persons engaged in the fitting out or the ignorance or innocence of the owners.
This is not a case that can be or should be determined upon questions of public policy, and whether any parties subject themselves to prosecution for piracy or not should have no weight in its consideration. If they should be so subject, they would have the benefit of the necessity of proving piratical acts, rather than intentions.
It is certainly considered to be true that any such parties would be considered as pirates by Spain, and would be treated as such if found in any acts of hostility, regardless of any recognition this nation might give them by considering them as having any political character as a people.
Without attempting further argument, but regretting that the pressing duties of a very busy term of jury trials have prevented a fuller and more complete expression of my views, it is my conclusion that the line of judicial decisions demands that a construction should be put upon the section in question which would hold that it was the intention of congress in such enactment to prevent recognized political powers from having vessels prepared for their service in the United States, but that it was not the intention to extend such prohibition to vessels fitted out to be employed by individuals or private parties, however they might be designated, for piratical or other hostilities, where no protection could be obtained by a commission from a recognized government. In such case they would be held liable under the section which provides for the fitting out of a military expedition, or, if they were guilty of any piratical acts upon the high seas, they would become liable under the laws for the punishment of such acts. It is considered that at the time of the amendment of 1818 this construction had been declared, and the language of the amendment was in no way intended to change such construction, but was only intended to apply to the new designation of political powers, the existence of which had been recognized as belligerents, if not as independents, and who were entitled to the rights of neutrals; that the libel herein does not state such a case as is contemplated by the statute, in that it does not allege that said vessel had been fitted out with intent that she be employed in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people recognized as such by the political power of the United States, and, unless it can be so amended, should be dismissed; and it is so ordered.
Since writing the foregoing, the libel herein has been amended by inserting, in place of 'by certain insurgents or persons in the Island of Cuba,' the words 'in the service of a certain people, to wit, certain people then engaged in armed resistance to the government of the king of Spain in the Island of Cuba'; but it is considered that the objection to the libel in sustaining the exceptions has not been overcome, but that, although the language has been somewhat changed, the substance has not been amended in the material part, inasmuch as it appears clearly that the word 'people' is used in an individual and personal sense, and not as an organized and recognized political power in any way corresponding to a state, prince, colony, or district, and can in no way change my conclusion heretofore expressed; and the libel must be dismissed.
Act June 5, 1794: 'Sec. 3. That if any person shall within any of the ports, harbors, bays, rivers or other waters of the United States, fit out and arm or attempt to fit out and arm or procure to be fitted out and armed, or shall 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 prince or state to cruise or commit hostilities upon the subjects, citizens or property of another foreign prince or state with whom the United States are at peace, or shall issue or deliver a commission within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States for any ship or vessel to the intent that she may be employed as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall upon conviction be adjudged guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined and imprisoned at the discretion of the court in which the conviction shall be had, so as the fine to be imposed shall in no case be more than five thousand dollars and the term of imprisonment shall not exceed three years, and every 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 equipment thereof shall be forfeited, one-half to the use of any person who shall give information of the offense, and the other half to the use of the United States.'
Act March 3, 1817: 'Section 1. That if any person shall, within the limits of the United States, fit out and arm, or attempt to fit out and arm, or procure to be fitted out and armed, or shall knowingly be concerned in the furnishing, fitting out or arming, of any such ship or vessel, with intent that such ship or vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district or people to cruise or commit hostilities, or to aid or co-operate in any warlike measure whatever, against the subjects, citizens, or property, of any prince or state, or of any colony, district or people with whom the United States are at peace,
every such person so offending shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined and imprisoned at the discretion of the court in which the conviction shall be had, so as the fine to be imposed shall in no case be more than ten thousand dollars, and the term of imprisonment shall not exceed ten years; and every 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 equipment thereof, shall be forfeited, one-half to the use of any person who shall give information, and the other half to the use of the United States.'
Act April 20, 1818: 'Sec. 3. That if any person shall, within the limits of the United States, fit out and arm, or attempt to fit out and arm, or procure to be fitted out and armed, or shall 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 prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people, with whom the United States are at peace, or shall issue or deliver a commission within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, for any ship or vessel, to the intent that she may be employed as aforesaid, every person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, and imprisoned not more than three years; and every 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 equipment thereof, shall be forfeited; one-half to the use of the informer, and the other haif to the use of the United States.'
That if any person, within any part of the United Kingdon, or in any part of his majesty's dominions beyond the seas, shall, without the leave and license of his majesty for that purpose first had and obtained as aforesaid, equip, furnish, fit out or arm, or attempt or endeavor to equip, furnish, fit out or arm, or procure to be equipped, furnished, fitted out or armed, or shall knowingly aid, assist, or be concerned in the equipping, furnishing, fitting out or arming of any ship or vessel with intent or in order that such ship or vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince, state or potentate, or of any foreign colony, province or part of any province or people, or of any person or persons exercising or assuming to exercise any powers of government in or over any foreign state, colony, province or part of any province or people, as a transport or storeship, or with intent to cruise or commit hostilities against any prince, state or potentate, or against the subjects or citizens of any prince, state or potentate, or against the persons exercising or assuming to exercise the powers of government in any colony, province or part of any province or country, or against the inhabitants of any foreign colony, province or part of any province or country, with whom his majesty shall not then be at war; or shall, within the United Kingdom, or any of his majesty's dominions, or in any settlement, colony, territory, island or place belonging or subject to his majesty, issue or deliver any commission for any ship or vessel, to the intent that such ship or vessel shall be employed as aforesaid, etc.
'Sec. 5283. Every person who, within the limits of the United States, fits out and arms, or attempts to fit out and arm, or procures to be fitted out and armed, or knowingly is concerned in the furnishing, fitting out or arming, of any vessel with intent that such vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district or people, to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens or property of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district or people, with whom the United States are at peace, or who issues or delivers a commission within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States for any vessel, to the intent that she may be so employed, shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, and imprisoned not more than three years. And every such vessel, her tackle, apparel and furniture, together with all materials, arms, ammunition and stores, which may have been procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited; one-half to the use of the informer and the other half to the use of the United States.