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1822. as the whole of his argument upon the conclusive
xi.e ness of the foreign sentence will be found reported at
Arrogate large, in the next volume, in the case of the Nereyda,
in order to avoid a repetition, it is thought expedient
to refer the reader to that case, which involved the
Mr. Winder, in reply, denied the authority of the supposed rule that a decree of sentence or a Court of Admiralty cannot be given in evidence, without producing the libel, or other proceedings. There can be no necessity for producing the libel, if the' sentence itself shows what the libel would show: and in this case the decree sets forth every fact which would appear on the face of the libel, or which is material to establish the conclusiveness of the proceedings. The decree accompanies the possession of the vessel, the essential muniment of her title. This Court has never asserted a right to look beyond the sentence of condemnation. It has always admitted its conclusiveness, even as to collateral effects. But even if the sentence be conclusive as to the question of prize only, the right of the original owner is completely devested. And even admitting this to be a possessory action, yet the right of possession depends on the right of property, otherwise any stranger might claim. As to the competency of the tribunal; the fact of the connection between the different Spanish provinces in the present war is notorious, and Courts of justice will always take notice of such facts. Indeed, the President, in his different official communications to Congress, has alluded to their being en
gaged in a common contest against the mother coun- 1822. tiy. Why then should they not lend each other the v-^7*^ aid of their tribunals to pronounce condemnations, as Arrogante
1 * B arcelones.
well as of their ports to fit out the armaments with which the captures of Spanish property are made? If, according to the original practice of nations, a carrying infrapr&sidia were to consummate the title, would it not be sufficient to carry the prize within the territory of an ally, or co-belligerent ? If one cobelligerent can consent to a foreign tribunal sitting within its territory, and condemning prizes made by the cruizers of its ally, why may not the ally permit its captures to be adjudged in the Courts of its cobelligerent? But at all events, Venezuela was herself engaged in war against Spain, and this was the property of her enemy brought into her territory. She had a right to condemn it in her Courts, and did condemn it so as to make it a part of the mass of national property. There is no positive authority which denies the authority of the Courts of a belligerent, to condemn prizes captured by its co-belligerent; and in the absence of any case to the contrary, it is sufficient that no reason of principle or public policy exists to prevent it. The learned counsel also referred to the Resolution of Congress during the revolutionary war, authorizing their Courts to condemn prizes captured by French cruizers, to show that the opinion and practice of nations had authorized similar proceedings."
a 5 Wheat. Rep. Appx. 123.
Mr. Justice Johnson delivered the opinion of the Court. The offence proved upon Almeida in this case is one of a very aggravated nature. He not only violated the neutrality of this government, but effected his purpose, by practising a flagrant fraud, either upon his crew, or upon the revenue officers of the port of Baltimore; or perhaps partially upon both. Every thing in the case proves that the sealing voyage round Cape Horn was a mere pretext; and if it be true that the crew were kidnapped under that pretext, and forced into belligerent service after getting to sea, it is a remarkable instance of bold and successful imposition. But who can believe it? The truth unquestionably is, that the crew, with perhaps the exception of the few who were put in irons, understood perfectly the nature of the enterprize they were embarking in, and were deceived into the belief that their affected ignorance, or the impudence of the fraud, would screen them from the penalties of the laws which forbade their entering into belligerent service.
It cannot, then, be questioned that Almeida now appears before usin the character of a flagrant offender against the laws and neutral obligations of this country. And there is no shadow of a ground for hesitating to apply to this case the established rule of this Court, in cases of illegal outfit, unless it be the condemnation of this vessel and cargo in the Court of Margaritta.
This Court will, for the present, waive all expression of its opinion on the questions raised upon the validity of that condemnation, or the sufficiency of the
document produced to prove it. We will put our ,
decision upon a single, and independent ground, that
circuity of changes it has come back to him. It is
not for him to claim a right springing out of his own
a In the case of the Nereyda, which was argued at the present term, the Court was of opinion, that in cases where a condemnation is relied on, the libel as well as the sentence ought to be produced, in order that the Court might judicially see that the foreign tribunal had jurisdiction, and what was the ground of application for condemnation, and the parties by whom it was sought. The Court also thought that the claimant ought to show by competent evidence that he was a bond fide purchaser of the property for a valuable consideration; and from the defects of the proofs on both points, the cause was ordered to farther proof. It has therefore been thought fit to omit a re port of the case, until its final decision.