The Panama - 176 U.S. 535 (1900)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Panama, 176 U.S. 535 (1900)
Argued November 8, 1899
Decided February 26, 1900
176 U.S. 535
No general rule of international law exempts mail ships from capture as prize of war.
A Spanish mail steamship, carrying mail of the United States from New York to Havana at the time of the breaking out of the recent war with Spain, was not exempt from capture by the sixth clause of the President's proclamation of April 26, 1898.
At the time of the breaking out of the recent war with Spain, a Spanish mail steamship was on a voyage from New York to Havana, carrying a general cargo, passengers and mails, and having mounted on board two breech-loading Hontoria guns of nine centimeter bore, and one Maxim rapid-firing gun, and having also on board twenty Remington rifles and ten Mauser rifles, with ammunition for all the guns and rifles, and thirty or forty cutlasses. Her armament bad been put on board more than a year before, for her own defense, as required by her owner's mail contract with the Spanish government, which also provided that in case of war, that government might take possession of the vessel with her equipment, increase her armament, and use her as a war vessel, and, in these and other provisions, contemplated her use for hostile purposes in time of war. Held that she was not exempt from capture as prize of war by the fourth clause of the President's proclamation of April 26, 1898.
The statement of the case will be found in the opinion of the court.