The Mohawk
70 U.S. 566

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

The Mohawk, 70 U.S. 3 Wall. 566 566 (1865)

The Mohawk

70 U.S. (3 Wall.) 566

Syllabus

1. The Act of December 23, 1852, authorizing foreign vessels wrecked and repaired in the United States to be registered or enrolled, is to be taken as a part of our system of registration and enrollment.

2. Vessels engaged in the foreign trade are registered, and those engaged in the coasting and home trade are enrolled, and the words "register" and "enrollment" are used to distinguish the certificates granted to those two classes of vessels.

3. The two statutes providing generally for registry and enrollment of vessels are the Act of December 31, 1792, applicable exclusively to registry of vessels engaged in foreign commerce, and the Act of July 18, 1793, applicable exclusively to vessels engaged in domestic commerce.

4. The penalty of forfeiture of a vessel for the use of a certificate of registry to which she is not entitled, found in the 27th section of the act of 1792, is not imported into the act of 1793, and there is no forfeiture under that act for the use of a fraudulent enrollment.

5. But the Act of March 2, 1831, concerning vessels used on our northern frontiers, which are necessarily engaged in both the foreign and home traffic at the same time, makes the certificate of enrollment equivalent to both registry and enrollment.

6. This act does, by the proviso to its 3d section, apply the penalty of forfeiture contained in the 27th section of the act of 1792 to an enrollment having the effect of a register fraudulently obtained.

Page 70 U. S. 567

An act of Congress of 1792 [Footnote 1] (section 27), provides that

"If any certificate of registry or record shall be fraudulently or knowingly used for any ship or vessel not then actually entitled to the benefit thereof according to the true intent of this act, such ship or vessel shall be forfeited to the United States."

An act of 1793, [Footnote 2] concerning the enrollment of vessels engaged in domestic commerce, enacts (section 2) that

"In order for the enrollment of any vessel, she shall possess the same qualifications, and the same requisites, in all respects, shall be complied with as are necessary for registering ships by the registry law, and the same duties are imposed on all officers with the same authority in relation to enrollments, and the same proceedings shall be had touching enrollments."

An Act of December 23, 1852, [Footnote 3] authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to issue a register or enrollment for any vessel built in a foreign country whenever such vessel may have been or shall hereafter be wrecked in the United States and shall have been or may hereafter be purchased and repaired by a citizen or citizens thereof, provided that it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury that the repairs put upon such vessel shall be equal to three-fourths of the cost of said vessel when so repaired.

Intermediate in date between the act last mentioned and the one of 1793, just before it set forth, there is another act. This Act, dated March 2, 1831, [Footnote 4] provides by its third section that any vessel of the United States navigating the waters of our northern, northeastern, and northwestern frontiers otherwise than by sea shall be enrolled and licensed in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury,

"which enrollment and license shall authorize any such vessel to be employed either in the coasting or foreign trade, and no certificate of registry shall be required for any vessel

Page 70 U. S. 568

so employed on said frontiers, provided that such vessel shall be in every other respect liable to the rules, regulations, and penalties now in force relating to registered vessels on our northern, northeastern, and northwestern frontiers."

With these four different statutes in force, Sloan and others, wishing to give to a Canadian-built and owned vessel the advantages of one with American papers, scuttled her and pretended that she had been accidentally made a wreck. They then raised her and put her in order, and falsely swearing, for the purpose of changing her to an American vessel, that the repairs were "equal to three-fourths of her cost when so repaired," procured American papers for her from the Secretary of the Treasury under the Act of December 23, 1852.

The United States now libeled her in the District Court of Michigan, with the idea:

1. That under the three acts first above mentioned, to-wit, the acts of 1792, 1793, and 1852 alone, she was liable to forfeiture.

2. That if this was not so, she was certainly liable under these acts in connection with the act of March 2, 1831.

The district court thought that the acts were not so essentially parts of one system as that the earlier ones could be imported into the latter, and dismissed the libel, and of this view was the circuit court. On appeal by the United States, the matter was now here for review.

Page 70 U. S. 570

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