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SUPREME COURT U.S.
SILAS TALBOT V. HANS FRED. SEEMAN.
SEEMAN. This was a writ of error to reverse a decree of the Salvage allowed circuit court which reversed the decree of the district to a United
States ship of court of New-York so far as it allowed salvage to the re
war, for the captors of the ship Amelia and her cargo.
re-capture of a Hamburgh vel
sel out of the The libel in the district court was filed November 5th
hands of the 1799, by captain Talbot, in behalf of himself and the French, (France other officers and crew of the United States ship of war and Hamburgh the Constitution, against the ship Amelia, her tackle, fur- being neutral to
each other) on niture and cargo; and sets forth:
the ground that
she was in 1. That in pursuance of instructions from the president danger of conof the United States he subdued, seized, &c. on the high der the French feas, the said ship Amelia and cargo, &c. and brought decree of 18th her into the port of New-York.
States & France, 2. That at the time of capture she was armed with eight carriage-guns and was under the command of citoy- 1799, were in en Etienne Prevost, a French officer of marine, and had a state of paron board, besides the commander, eleven French mariners. That the libellant has been informed that she, being the demand for property of some person to him unknown, failed from falvage, the reCalcutta, an English port in the East-Indies, bound for capture must be some port in Europe ; that upon her said voyage she was meritorious fesmet with and captured by a French national corvette, cal- vice must be led La Diligente, commanded by L. J. Dubois, who took rendered. out of her the captain and crew of the Amelia, with all the probable cause is papers relating to her and her cargo, and placed the said der the re-capEtienne Prevost, and the faid French mariners, on board ture lawful. of her, and ordered her to St. Domingo for adjudication, where the as a good and lawful prize; and that the remained in the amount of fala
in the year
'tries are gene
TALBOT full and peaceable poffeffion of the French, from the time
of her capture, for the space of ten days, whereby, the libellant is advised, that, as well by the law of nations,
as by the paticular laws of France, the said ship became, vage is not regulated by po
and was to be considered as a French ship. sitive law, it must be deter
Whereupon, he prays usual process, &c. and conmined by the principles of
demnation; or, in case restoration should be decreed, that general law. it may be on payment of such salvage as by law ought Marine ordi
to be paid for the fame. nances of foreign countries, promulgated by
The claim and answer of Hans Frederic Seeman in bethe executive, half of Meflrs. Chapeau Rouge and Co. of Hamburgh, by order of the owners of the ship Amelia and her cargo, stated, That the legislatureofthe United States,
said ship commanded by Jacob F. Engelbrecht, as master, may be read in failed on the 20th of February, 1798, from Hambugh on the courts of the a voyage to the East-Indies, where the arrived safe; that in United States, April, 1799, the left Calcutta bound to Hamburgh; that authentication during her voyage, and at the time of her capture by the or proof. French, she and her cargo belonged to Messrs. Chapeau Munic pal laws Rouge and Co. citizens of Hamburgh, and if restored fhe of foreign coun
will be wholly their property; that on the 6th of Septemrally to be ber, on her voyage home, she was captured on the high proved as seas by a French armed vefsel commanded by citizen Dufacts.
bois, who took out the master and thirteen of her crew and all her papers, leaving on board the claimant, who was mate of the Amelia, the doctor, and five other men. That the French commander put on board twelve hands and ordered her to St. Domingo, and parted from her on the 5th day after her capture. That on the 15th of September, the Amelia, while in possession of the French, was captured, without any resistance on her part, by the said ship of war, the Constitution, and brought into NewYork. "That the Amelia had eight carriage guns, it being usual for all vessels in the trade she was carrying on to be armed, even in times of general peace. That there being peace between France and Hamburgh at the time of the first capture, and also between the United States and Hamburgh, and between the United States and France, the poffeffion of the Amelia by the French, in the manner, and for the time stated in the said libel, could neither by the laws of nations, nor by the laws of France, nor by those of the United States, change the property of the said thip Amelia and her cargo, or make the same liable
to condemnation in a French court of admiralty ; that the same could not therefore be considered as French property; wherefore, he prays restoration in like plight as at the time of capture by the fhip Constitution, with costs and charges.
On the 16th December, 1799, the district judge, by consent of parties, made an interlocutory decree, directing the marshal to sell the ship and cargo, and bring the money
into court; and that the clerk ihould pay half of the amount of sales to the claimant, on his giving security to refund in case the court should so decree ; and that the clerk should retain the other half in his hands, together with all costs and charges, &c.
Afterwards, on the 25th of February, 1800, the judge of the district court made his final decree, directing half of the gross amount of sales of the ship and cargo, without any deduction whatever, to be paid to the libellant for the use of the officers and crew of the ship Constitution, to be distributed according to the act of congress for the government of the navy of the United States. And that out of the other moiety, the clerk should pay the officers of the court, and the proctors for the libellant and claimant, their taxed costs and charges, and that the residue fhould be paid to the owners of the Amelia or
From this decree the claimant appealed to the circuit court.
At the circuit court for the district of New-York in April, 1800, before judge Washington and the district judge, the cause was argued by B. Livingston and Burr for the appellant, and Harrison and Hamilton for the respondent; and on the oth of April, 1800, the circuit court made the following decree, viz.
« That the decree of the district court, fo far forth as it « orders a payment, by the clerk, of a moiety of the gross “ amount of sales to Silas Talbot, commander, &c. and to « the officers and crew of the said ship Conftitution, is « erroneous, and so far forth be reversed without costs; " that is to say, the court, considering the admission on