PHILE v. THE ANNA - 1 U.S. 197 (1787)
U.S. Supreme Court
PHILE v. THE ANNA, 1 U.S. 197 (1787)
1 U.S. 197 (Dall.)
Phile qui tam
The Ship Anna
Court of Common Pleas, of
June Term, 1787
This was an information filed by the Naval Officer of the port of Philadelphia, against the ship Anna, lately arrived from Bristol upon the discovery of Peter Cooper, that forty two hampers of porter, part of her cargo, had been landed, without being first duly entered at the Collector's office, conformably to a law of this State, passed the fifteenth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven, which enacts, among other things, 'That every vessel or boat, from which any goods, wares, or merchandize, shall be unladed before due entry thereof, at the office of the Collector, of the port of Philadelphia, and every carriage into which any such goods shall be first put or loaded, after removal from such vessel or boat, together with the horse, horses, or cattle drawing the said carriage at the time of seizure, shall be forfeited, and seized by the Collector last aforesaid, or the Naval Officer, or any of his or their deputies, &c.' It appeared in evidence to the Jury, upon the part of the informants, that the Captain of the Anna, had only exhibited twenty hampers of porter in his official manifest, whereas a much greater quantity was found on board the ship, besides forty two hampers landed and deposited in the store of one Smith, and twenty four hampers actually delivered on shore to the captain himself, agreeably to his orders given for that purpose in the store of the claimants. It was proved, likewise, that a considerable number of hampers of porter, had, during the passage, been removed from the
hold, and stowed away in the state-rooms, filling from the floor to the ceiling, so that any person who was in the least attentive, must have observed them upon entering the cabin; and it appeared, that the owners and their agent had been several times on board before the seizure, and before the removal of the hampers from that situation. The customary privilege of a captain in the Bristol trade was described to be limited to one ton, and the gross number of the hampers of porter discovered by the informants, was computed to amount to a little more than eighteen tons. The mate, who, the claimants alledged was the delinquent on this occasion, had been retained in their service, on board the ship, for two or three weeks after the seizure; but he had lately absconded, under the apprehension of a prosecution for the penalty of L. 500.
For the claimants, it was given in evidence by a passenger, that he was told by the mate of the Anna (who it seems was a man of some property) that he had clandestinely shipped a quantity of porter, which he intended to dispose of here, without paying the freight to the owners, or the duties to the state, and which he had an opportunity of doing, even without the captain's knowledge, as it was the custom for mates to superintend the loading and unloading of the vessel. The witness had likewise during the passage, purchased about a dozen of porter from the mate, who then solicitously requested that the circumstance might not be communicated to the captain; and who (as several witnesses proved) after his arrival at Philadelphia, had treated with several persons for the sale of porter, repeatedly informing them that it was his private adventure, and that the owners of the vessel had not a bottle on board. When the hampers were removed at sea, from the hold into the cabin, the captain, who had long been indisposed, was then particularly sick, owing to his exertions during a storm that had happened the preceding night; and the father of one of the owners who had taken charge of the vessel upon her arrival, affirmed that he did not, while in the cabin, observe the hampers that were stowed away in the staterooms; that he had been very cautious in directing the manifest to be made out according to the invoices and bills of lading, and that he had personally enjoined all the officers of the ship, not to land a single article without a regular permit from the collector. It was in proof, likewise, that a hamper of porter which the sailors were hoisting out of the hold, was hastily let down again upon the appearance of one of the owners.
The evidence on both sides being stated, the counsel for the claimants argued, that the present question was of the greatest importance to the commercial interests of the country, as it was now to be determined, whether an innocent owner of a ship, was responsible for all the unwarrantable actions of her officers and crew? A rigid construction of the law, upon which this prosecution is grounded, cannot fail indeed, to counteract the object of the legislature in framing it: as the attempt to secure our revenues by indiscriminately [1 U.S. 197, 199]