The Hiram
12 U.S. 444

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

The Hiram, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 444 444 (1814)

The Hiram

12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 444

Syllabus

Sailing on a voyage under the license and passport or protection of the enemy in furtherance of his views or interests constitutes such an act of illegality as subjects the ship and cargo to condemnation as prize of war.

Sailing with a cargo of provisions to the port of a neutral which is the ally of our enemy in his war with another power is such a furtherance of the views of our enemy.

This was a case of capture, as prize, by the private armed brig Thorn, duly commissioned by the President of the United States and commanded by Asa Hooper, Esq.

Page 12 U. S. 445

The Hiram, owned by Samuel G. Griffith, an American citizen, sailed from Baltimore on or about 24 September, 1912, with a cargo of flour and bread on a voyage to Lisbon. She was captured on 15 October following, and sent into Marblehead, in the District of Massachusetts, for adjudication. She was libeled in the district court for the said district by the captors. The vessel was claimed by Barker, the master, in behalf of Samuel G. Griffith, and the cargo by the supercargo in behalf of said Griffith and various other shippers, American merchants at Baltimore.

Among the papers found on board the Hiram at the time of her capture were certain papers commonly called a British license or protection, being a certified copy of a letter from Admiral Sawyer to Andrew Allen Esq. late British consul at Boston, and an additional letter of safe conduct from Mr. Allen. It appeared from the evidence that this license was purchased from a citizen of the United States and that a part of it was not filled up at the time of the purchase, and that such licenses were common article of sale in Baltimore and other places.

There was also found on board, the owner's letter of instructions, in which the supercargo was directed to remit the proceeds of the cargo in bills of exchange or government bills to the shipper's correspondents in Liverpool, and moreover to sell the vessel at Lisbon if an advantageous sale could be made, and remit the proceeds to England.

It appeared from the evidence in the cause that such remittances in bills of exchange were common among merchants.

The captors claimed condemnation of the vessel and cargo

1. Because of the British protection or license.

2. Because the remittances were directed to be made in England in bills of exchange.

The district and circuit courts both decided that

Page 12 U. S. 446

neither the vessel nor cargo were liable to condemnation, but allowed the captors their expenses. From the decree of the circuit court both parties appealed.

Page 12 U. S. 448

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