The Aurora v. United States
11 U.S. 382

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Aurora v. United States, 11 U.S. 7 Cranch 382 382 (1813)

The Aurora v. United States

11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 382

Syllabus

The legislature may make the revival of an act depend upon a future event and direct that event to be made known by proclamation.

When an act of Congress is revived by a subsequent act, it is revived precisely in that form and with that effect which it had at the moment when it expired.

In a libel, it is not necessary to state any fact which constitutes the defense of the claimant.

The Nonintercourse Act of March 1, 1809, was, by force of the Act of May 1, 1810, and the President's proclamation of November 2, 1810, revived on 2 February, 1811.

This was an appeal from the sentence of the District Court for the District of Orleans condemning the cargo of the brig Aurora for having been imported from Great Britain, in violation of the 4th and 5th sections of the Nonintercourse Act of March 1, 1809, vol. 9, p. 243, which it was contended were in force against Great Britain on 20 February, 1811 (when this cargo was seized), by virtue of the Act of May 1, 1810, vol. 10, p. 186, and the President's proclamation of November 2, 1810.

By the 4th section of the Act of March 1, 1809, it is enacted

"That from and after 20 May next, it shall not be lawful to import into the United States

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or the territories thereof any goods, wares or merchandise whatever from any port or place situated in Great Britain or Ireland or in any of the colonies or dependencies of Great Britain, nor from any port or place situated in France or in any of her colonies or dependencies, nor from any port or place in the actual possession of either Great Britain or France."

By the 5th section of the same act, it is enacted

"That whenever any article or articles the importation of which is prohibited by this act shall, after 20 May, be imported into the United States or the territories thereof contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, . . . all such articles . . . shall be forfeited."

By the 11th section of the same act it is provided

"That the President of the United States be and he hereby is authorized, in case either France or Great Britain shall so revoke or modify her edicts as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States, to declare the same by proclamation, after which the trade suspended by this act and by the act laying an embargo . . . may be renewed with the nation so doing."

This act was to continue in force only to the end of the then next session of Congress, but the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th sections were, by the Act of June 28, 1809, continued to the end of the next session.

On 19 April, 1809, in consequence of the arrangement with Mr. Erskine, the President issued his proclamation declaring that Great Britain had so revoked her edicts, &c., whereby the law ceased to operate against her. But in consequence of the disavowal of Mr. Erskine's arrangement by the British government, that proclamation was afterwards revoked.

The Act of 1 March, 1809, expired with the session of Congress on 1 May, 1810, on which day Congress passed an act (vol. 10, p. 186) the 4th section of which enacted

"That in case either Great Britain or France shall, before the third day of March

Page 11 U. S. 384

next, so revoke or modify her edicts as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States, which fact the President of the United States shall declare by proclamation, and if the other nation shall not within three months thereafter so revoke or modify her edicts in like manner, then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eighteenth sections of the act, entitled 'An act to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France, and their dependencies, and for other purposes' shall, from and after the expiration of three months from the date of the proclamation aforesaid, be revived and have full force and effect so far as relates to the dominions, colonies, and dependencies of the nation thus refusing or neglecting to revoke or modify her edicts in manner aforesaid. And the restrictions imposed by this act shall, from the date of such proclamation, cease and be discontinued in relation to the nation revoking or modifying her decrees in manner aforesaid."

On 2 November, 1810, the President issued his proclamation declaring that France had so revoked or modified her edicts as that they ceased to violate the neutral commerce of the United States.

By the Act of March 2, 1811, vol. 10, p. 346, sec. 1, it is enacted

"That no vessel owned wholly by a citizen or citizens of the United States, which shall have departed from a British port prior to 2 February, 1811, and no merchandise owned wholly by a citizen or citizens of the United States imported in such vessel, shall be liable to seizure or forfeiture on account of any infraction or presumed infraction of the provisions of the act to which this is a supplement [the Act of May 1, 1810]."

The 2d section provides that in case Great Britain should so revoke or modify her edicts, &c., the President shall declare the same by proclamation.

The 3d section enacts that until the proclamation aforesaid "shall have been issued, the several provisions of the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and

Page 11 U. S. 385

18th sections of the act entitled An act to interdict,'" . . . [the Act of March 1, 1809] shall have full force and be immediately carried into effect against Great Britain, her colonies and dependencies.

The Aurora cleared out from Liverpool on 11 December, 1810, sailed on the 16th, and arrived at New Orleans, between 2 and 20 February, 1811. The President's proclamation of 2 Nov. 1810, was known in Liverpool on 13 December.

Page 11 U. S. 387

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