Harrison v. Vose
50 U.S. 372 (1850)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Harrison v. Vose, 50 U.S. 9 How. 372 372 (1850)

Harrison v. Vose

50 U.S. (9 How.) 372

Syllabus

An Act of Congress passed on 28 February, 1803, 2 Stat. 203, declares that

"It shall be the duty of every master or commander of a ship or vessel belonging to citizens of the United States, on his arrival at a foreign port, to deposit his register, sea letter, and Mediterranean passport with the consul, commercial agent, or vice commercial agent, if any there be, at such port. In case of refusal or neglect of the said master or commander to deposit the papers as aforesaid, he shall forfeit and pay $500."

The arrival here spoken of means an arrival for purposes of business, requiring an entry and clearance and stay at the port so long as to require some of the acts connected with business, and not merely touching at a port for advices, or to ascertain the state of the market, or being driven in by an adverse wind and sailing again as soon as it changes.

Therefore, when a vessel arrived at the harbor of Kingston, Jamaica, and came to anchor at about a quarter of a mile from the town, but did not go up to the town, nor come to an entry, nor discharge any part of her cargo, nor take in passengers or cargo at Kingston, nor do any business except to communicate with the consignees, by whom the master was informed that his cargo was sold, deliverable at Savannah la Mar, the master was not liable to the penalty for omitting to deliver his papers to the consul.

Page 50 U. S. 373

This was an action of debt for the penalty of five hundred dollars imposed by the statute, 2 Stat. 203, which will be presently quoted, brought in the Circuit Court for Maine in the name of Mr. Harrison, United States Consul at Kingston, in the Island of Jamaica, against George C. Vose, master of the brig Openango.

By the second section of the Act of 28 February, 1803, entitled "An act supplementary to the act concerning consuls and vice-consuls, and for the further protection of American seamen," it is enacted:

"That it shall be the duty of every master or commander of a ship or vessel belonging to citizens of the United States who shall sail from any port of the United States after the first day of May next, on his arrival at a foreign port, to deposit his register, sea letter, and Mediterranean passport with the consul, vice-consul, commercial agent, or vice commercial agent if any there be at such port; that in case of refusal or neglect of the said master or commander to deposit the said papers as aforesaid, he shall forfeit and pay five hundred dollars, to be recovered by the said consul, vice-consul, commercial agent, or vice commercial agent, in his own name, for the benefit of the United States, in any court of competent jurisdiction, and it shall be the duty of such consul, vice-consul, commercial agent, or vice commercial agent, on such master or commander producing to him a clearance from the proper officer of the port where his ship or vessel may be, to deliver to the said master or commander all of his said papers, provided such master or commander shall have complied with the provisions contained in this act and those of the act to which this is a supplement."

The action was brought at the October term, 1847. Vose appeared and pleaded nil debet, and the cause came on for trial at the same term.

The facts in proof in the case were as follows.

"The brig Openango, belonging to citizens of the United States, George C. Vose, the defendant master, sailed from Eastport, in the State of Maine, in the month of July, 1844, with a cargo of lumber, consigned to Messrs. Darrell & Barclay, merchants, of Kingston, in the Island of Jamaica, and arrived at Port Royal, in the harbor of Kingston aforesaid, on 4 September of the same year, and came to anchor at about a quarter of a mile from the town, but did not go up to the town, nor come to an entry, nor discharge any part of her cargo, nor take in cargo or passengers at Kingston, nor do any business, except to communicate with his consignees, by

Page 50 U. S. 374

whom the master of said bring was informed that his cargo was sold, deliverable at Savannah la Mar."

"The defendant on his arrival at Kingston, or at any time while said brig lay at anchor at Kingston, did not deposit his register, sea letter, or Mediterranean passport with the plaintiff, who was the United States Consul at said port of Kingston at the time of the arrival of said bring there, as aforesaid."

"After communicating with said consignees, the master of said brig, on the 5th day of said month of September, sailed in said brig from said port of Kingston to a place in said Island of Jamaica called Savannah la Mar, where she arrived in due season, came to an entry, discharged her cargo, and where the said master deposited the register, sea letter, and passport aforesaid with the vice-consul of the United States at said place called Savannah la Mar. One of the defendant's witnesses testified that said brig arrived at Kingston in the afternoon of 4 September, and sailed from Kingston the next morning after her arrival there and as soon as the wind would permit."

"It was in proof, from one of the Kingston pilots, that the master of a vessel arriving at Kingston is compelled by law to report his arrival at the custom house, whether his cargo had been previously sold, deliverable at another port, or not, but was under no necessity of coming to an entry."

"At the trial, the following question occurred upon the foregoing testimony, to-wit:"

"Whether it was the duty of the defendant, who was master or commander of the ship or vessel called the Openango, on his arrival at Kingston, in the Island of Jamaica, to deposit his register, sea letter, and Mediterranean passport with the United States Consul at said port."

"Upon which question, the judges of the said circuit court were opposed in opinion, and thereupon, upon the motion of the district attorney, for and in behalf of the United States, it was ordered by the court, that the said question, upon which the said judges were so opposed, should be certified, under the seal of the court, to the Supreme Court of the United States, at their next session, for a final decision."

"LEVI WOODBURY"

"Associate Justice of Supreme Court"

"ASHUR WARE"

"District Judge"

Page 50 U. S. 377

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