The Frances - 13 U.S. 183 (1815)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Frances, 13 U.S. 9 Cranch 183 183 (1815)
13 U.S. (9 Cranch) 183
If a British merchant purchase, with his own funds, two cargoes of goods in consequence of but not in exact conformity with the orders of an American house, and ship them to America, giving the American house an option within twenty four hours after receipt of his letter to take or reject both cargoes, and if they give notice within the time that they will take one cargo but will consider as to the other, this puts it in the power of the British merchant either to cast the whole upon the American house or to resume the property and make them accountable for that which came to their hands. The right of property in the cargo not accepted does not, in transitu, vest in the American house, but remains in the British subject, and is liable to condemnation, he being an enemy.
In the ordinary course of mercantile transactions, a delivery to a ship master is a delivery to a consignee, but this delivery may be absolute or qualified, and the effect of it may vary accordingly. A voluntary agent has the option to enter upon his agency in strict conformity with the instructions of his principal or with such reservations or conditions as he may think proper to prescribe, and the only consequence it that in the latter case he leaves his principal at liberty to adopt or repudiate his acts.
The shipper who purchases goods on his own credit or with his own funds is not acting in the ordinary capacity of a factor. If he were, the goods, even before shipment, would be the property of the individual on whose order the purchase is made. Such shipments are in the nature of a mercantile credit, and the shipper always retains the uncontrolled exercise of discretion in extending it.
In this case further proof was ordered at the last term.