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ishable with death, is piracy under the eighth section of the act of congress, possed the thirtieth of April, A. D.

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1790; and whether the circuit court of the United U. States

States hath authority to take cognizance of, try, and
punish such offence?
2d. Whether the crime of robbery, mentioned in the
said eighth section of the act of congress aforesaid, is
the crime of robbery, as recognized and defined at com-
mon law, or is dispunishable until it is defined and ex-
pressly punished by some act of congress; other than
the act of congress above mentioned?
3.l. Whether the crime of robbery, committed by per-
sons who are not citizens of the United States, on the
high seas, on board of any ship or vessel, belonging ex
clusively to the subjects of any foreign state or sove-
reignty, or upon the person of any subject of any for-
eign state or sovereignt v, not on board of any ship or
vessel belonging to any citizen or citizens of the Uni.
ted Stated, be a ro'bery or piracy, within the true in-
tent and meaning of the said eighth section of the act
of congress afores lid, and of which the ci:cuit court of
the United States hath cognizance, to hear, try, deter-
mine, and punish the same 2. -
4th. Whether the crime of robbery committed on
the high seas, by citizens of the united States, on
board of any ship or vessel not belonging to the Uni-
ted States, or to any citizens of the United States,
in whole or in port, but owned by, and exclusively
belonging to, the subjects of a foreign state or sove-
reignty, or committed, on the high seas, on the

person of any su'j ct of any foreign state or sove

reignty, who is not, at the time, on board of any

w. Palmer.

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ship or vessel, belonging in whole or part to the Uni-
ted States, or to any citizen thereof, be a robbery or pi-
racy within the said eighth section of the acts of con-
gress aforesaid, and of which the circuit court of the
United States hath cognizance to hear, try, and deter-
mine, and punish the same *
5th. Whether any revolted colony, district, or peo-
ple, which have thrown off their allegiance to their
mother country, but haye never becn acknowledged
by the United States, as a sovereign or independent
nation or power, have authority to issue commissions
to make captures on the high seas of the persons,
property and vessels of the subjects of the nother
country, who retain their allegiance; and whether
the captures made under such commissions are, as to
the United States, to be deemed lawful; and whether
the forcible seizure, with violence, and by putting in
fear of the persons on board of the vessels, the pro-
perty of the su'jects of such mother country, who
retain their allegiance, on the high seas, in virtue of
such commissions, is not to be deemed a roobery or pi-
racy within the said eighth section of the act of con-
gress aforesaid :
6th. Whether an act, which would be deemed a
robbery on the high seas, if done without a lawful
comp.ssion, is protected from being considered as a
robbery on the high seas, when the same act is done
under a commission, or the colour of a commission
from any foreign colony, district, or people, which
have revolted fro:" their native allegiance, and have
declared themselves independent and sovereign, and

- - • *

have assumed to exercise the powers and authorities w

of an independent and sovereign government, but

1818. --

The

have never been acknowledge.], or recognized, as an U. States

independent or sovereign government, or nation, by the United States, or by any other foreign state, prince, or sovereignty 2 -

7th. Whether the existence of a commission to make captures, where it is set up as a defence to an indictment for piracy, must be proved by the production of the original commission, or of a certified cöpy thereof from the proper department of the foreign state or sovereignty by whom it is granted ; or if not, whether the impossibility of producing either the original

or such certified copy must not be proved before

any inferior and secondary evidence of the exist

ence of such cominission is to be allowed, on the trial

of such indictment before any court of the United
States ?
8th. Whether the seal, purporting to be the seal of a
foreign state or sovereignty, and annexed to any such
commission or a ceitisied copy thereof, is to be admitted
in a conrt of the United States as proving itself, with -
out any other proof of its genuineness, so as to establish
the legal existence of such commission’srom such foreign
state or sovereignty 2 -
9th. Whether a seal, annexed to any such com.
mission, purporting to be the public seal used by the
persons exercising the powers of government in any
foreign colony, district, or people, which have re-
volted from their native allegia ace, and have declared
themselves independent and sovereign, and actually
exercise the powers of an independent government

v. Palmer.

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or nation, but have never been acknowledged as such independent government or nation by the United States, is admissi'le in a court of the United States

as proof of the legal existence of such commission,

with or without farther proof of the genuineness of such
seal 2 * -
10th. Whether t-ny colony, district, or people, who
have revolted from their native allegiance, and have
assumed upon themselves the exercise of independent
and sovereign power, can be deemed, in any court of
the United States, an independent or sovereign nation,
or government, until they have been at knowledged
as such by the government of the United States;
and whether such acknowledgement can be proved in
a court of the United States, otherwise than by some
act, or statute, or resolution, of the congress of the
United States, or by some public proclamation, or
other public act of the executive authority of the
United States, directly containing or announcing such
acknowledgement, or by publicly receiving and ac-
knowledging an am' assador, or other public minister-
from such colony, district, or people; and whether
such acknowledgement can be proved by mere inference
from the private octs or private instructions of the exe-
cutive of the United States, when no public acknow-
ledgement has eve been made ; and whether the courts
of the United States are bound judicially to take notice
of the existing relations of the Unitel. States, as to
foreign states and sovereignties, their colonies, and
dependencies 2
11th. Whether in case of a civil war between a
mother country and its colony, the subjects of the dif-
ferent parties arc to be deemed, in respect to neutral
nations as enemies to each other, entitled to the
rights of war; and that captures made of each other’s
ships and other property on the high seas are to be
considered, in respect to neutral nations as rightful,
so that courts of law of neutral nations are not author-
ized to deem such acts as piracy 3
And the said judges, being so opposed in opinion
upon the questions aforesaid, the same were then and
there, at the repuest of the district attorney for the
United States, stated, under the direction of the judges
and ordered by the court to be certified under the seal
of the court to the supreme court, at their next session
to be held thereafter, to be finally decided by said su-
preme court; and the court being farther of opinion,

- that farther proceedings could not be had in said

cause without prejudice to the merits of the same cause, did order, that the injury impannelled as aforesaid to try said cause, be discharged from giving any verdict therein.

1818,

The
U. States

Palmer.

Mr. Blake for the United States, argued 1. That March 13th.

a robbery committed on the high seas, is piracy, under the 8th section of the act of 1790, ch. 36. “for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States,” although no law of the United States be subsisting for the punishment of the same offence if committed on land ; and that such piracy is cognizable in the circuit court. The words of the statute are, That if any person or persons shall commit, upon the high seas,” &c. “murder or robbery, or any other offence, which if committed within the body of a county, would by the law of the United States, be punishaVol. III. 79

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