The Mary AnnAnnotate this Case
21 U.S. 380
U.S. Supreme Court
The Mary Ann, 21 U.S. 8 Wheat. 380 380 (1823)
The Mary Ann
21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 380
A libel of information, under the 9th section of the Slave Trade Act of March 2, 1807, c. 77, alleging that the vessel sailed from the ports of New York and Perth Amboy without the captain's having delivered the manifests required by law to the collector or surveyor of New York and Perth Amboy, is defective, the act requiring the manifest to be delivered to the collector or a surveyor of a single port.
Under the same section, the libel must charge the vessel to be of the burden of forty tons or more. In general, it insufficient to charge the offense in the words directing the forfeiture; but if the words are general, embracing a whole class of individual subjects, but must necessarily be so construed as to embrace only a subdivision of that class, the allegation must conform to the legislative sense and meaning.
Where the libel is so informal and defective that the court cannot enter up a decree upon it, and the evidence discloses a case of forfeiture, this Court will not amend the libel itself, but will remand the cause to the court below with directions to permit it to be amended.
This was an allegation of forfeiture in the court below against the brig Mary Ann for a violation of the Act of March 2, 1807, c. 77, prohibiting the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States from and after 1 January, 1808. The libel contained two counts. The first alleged that the brig Mary Ann, on 10 March, 1818, sailing coastwise from a port in the United States, to-wit, the ports of New York and Perth Amboy,
to a port or place within the jurisdiction of the same, to-wit, the port of New Orleans, and having on board certain negroes, mulattoes, or persons of color for the purpose of transporting them to be sold or disposed of as slaves or to be held to service or labor, to-wit, No. 1, Lydia, &c., did, laden and destined as aforesaid, depart from the ports of New York and Perth Amboy, where she then was, without the captain or commander having first made out and subscribed duplicate manifests of every negro, mulatto, and person of color, on board said brig Mary Ann, and without having previously delivered the same to the collectors or surveyors of the ports of New York and Perth Amboy, and obtained a permit, in manner as required by the act of Congress, in such case made and provided, contrary to the form of said act. The second count was for taking on board thirty-six negroes, mulattoes, or persons of color previous to her arrival at her said port of destination, contrary to the act, &c.
The court below condemned the vessel, as liable to forfeiture, under the act referred to, and the claimant appealed to this Court.
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