The Emily and the Caroline - 22 U.S. 381 (1824)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Emily and the Caroline, 22 U.S. 9 Wheat. 381 381 (1824)
The Emily and the Caroline
22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 381
A libel of information does not require all the technical precision of an indictment at common law. If the allegations describe the offense, it is all that is necessary, and if founded upon a statute, it is sufficient if it pursues the words of the law.
An information, under the Slave Trade Act of 1794, c. 187, s. 1, which describes in one count the two distinct acts of preparing a vessel and of causing her to sail, pursuing the words of the law is sufficient.
Stating a charge in the alternative is good, if each alternative constitutes an offense for which the thing is forfeited.
Under the above act it is not necessary, in order to incur the forfeiture that the vessel should be completely fitted and ready for sea. As soon as the preparations have proceeded so far as clearly to manifest the intention, the right of seizure attaches.
In each of these two cases, a libel of information was filed in the District Court of South Carolina against the ship Emily and the brig Caroline under the 1st section of the Act of 22 March, 1794, c. 187, prohibiting the carrying on the slave trade from the United States to any foreign place or country, and on the 2d section of the Act of 2 March, 1807, c. 77, to prohibit the importation of slaves into the United States after 1 January, 1808. Each libel contained three counts, two upon the act of 1794 and one upon that of 1807,
which are the same in their provisions so far as respects this case, and the libels described the offense in the alternative, pursuing the words of the law
"That the said vessel was fitted out within a port or place of the United States, to-wit, the port of Charleston, or caused to be sailed from a port or place within the United States, to-wit, the said port of Charleston, &c., for the purpose of carrying on trade or traffic in slaves,"
&c. A decree of condemnation was pronounced in each case in the district court which was affirmed in the circuit court, and the causes were brought by appeal to this Court.